ST. LOUIS — Another weekend of car break-ins, a carjacking and groups of armed young adults in downtown St. Louis led Cardinals management to revamp security plans.
Baseball fans will see more uniformed police officers and security guards outside the stadium, according to Cardinal’s President Bill DeWitt III.
“We've been meeting with the new police chief to figure out these break-in issues with cars in particular, which has been a nuisance for us,” DeWitt said. “We've talked about maybe having (police officers) fan out a little bit more into the parking lot so that the break-ins won’t occur.
DeWitt says that is a short-term strategy to relieve the problem.
DeWitt addressed the issue during a grand opening ceremony for Katies Pizza & Pasta in Ballpark Village Monday. DeWitt said businesses like the local restaurant investing in downtown are part of the solution, too.
“Failure is not an option,” DeWitt said. “We've got people so invested in downtown, this type of event reiterates our commitment to say that we've got to fix the problems that we have."
DeWitt believes the business community is working to support new crime prevention and deterrent measures led by the City of St. Louis and the police department.
"And there are a lot of meetings, a lot of effort being put behind solutions to these issues,” DeWitt said.
Dewitt did not want to reveal additional security plans but said the weekend’s violence is not lost on the Cardinals.
“It’s so important because crime is also a perception issue,” Dewitt said. “It’s both a real issue and a perception issue, and when you have people that are committed to fixing this and they’re putting their money where their mouth is, they’re investing in downtown.
“We have a few other ribbon cuttings coming soon and it’s just very heartening to see that despite the issues, we remain committed and I hope the fans stay committed.”
Katie Collier, the Katie of Katie’s Pizza & Pasta, told 5 On Your Side she is keenly aware of the violence downtown, but it doesn’t mean it’s time for businesses to give up.
“I think it's more important to be here during that time and more important to invest during that time and not to abandon our city,” she said. “We don't want to do that."
She says her business is doing a small part to improve downtown St. Louis' culture and food scene.
The restaurant right across from Gate 4 outside Busch Stadium took 11 months to build, and it’s the family’s flagship location. A square-shaped grey and white marble top bar anchors the center of the space with seating for more than 20 people. An outdoor patio opens to a live entertainment space, and the restaurant offers a to-go window for fans who want to bring some goodies into the ballpark.
The space also pays homage to Collier’s father, who collected architectural features from buildings. Some of them can be found throughout the new restaurant. A large projection screen in the middle also plays Italian-themed classic movies from a bygone era when there is not a Cardinals game to watch.
Katie Collier said she and her family couldn’t imagine opening the flagship location anywhere else.
“I think there's a lot of business down here and there's a there's much more positive than negative,” she said. “There's negative stuff happening everywhere, no matter where you are.
“If you want to have a successful space, I think downtown St. Louis, especially Ballpark Village, is a good bet.”