ST. LOUIS — Not only is St. Louis CITY SC bringing soccer to the community, it's also bringing more growth and opportunity to downtown and beyond.
Everything from hotels to restaurants to bars are going to feel the positive impact of having St. Louis CITY SC right downtown.
Brian Hall, Explore St. Louis chief marketing officer, said he doesn't have an exact number of the economic impact the team will bring, but he believes it will be millions.
"The ripple effect throughout the community is going to be huge. We’re going to have heads in beds, we’re going to have patrons in restaurants. We’re going to have people, young people particularly, coming in brought together by the power of sports in downtown St. Louis. I think downtown St. Louis is really becoming an entertainment hub and residential hub, as well," he said.
Even before the team plays the first game at CityPark, according to Hall, they're already catalyzing lots of excitement and development in the area.
"We have new residential development, new retail. We have new entertainment spaces that are opening up, so we are ready for some soccer," he said.
Hall added even the location of CityPark is helping the city because it's in a part of downtown that's been vacant for quite some time.
"It’s really a good time, from a tourism standpoint, to be part of this community. The energy is palpable," he said.
A big worry for a lot of people right now though is downtown safety. This weekend, the city is also hosting Arch Madness, a men's basketball tournament, that will also bring tons of people to downtown.
Explore St. Louis works with St. Louis police and the Downtown St. Louis Community Improvement District to make sure people are safe and secure downtown, according to Hall.
"In addition to all of that, all that activity feet on the street are a deterrent to criminal activity. When there’s lots of vibrancy in downtown St. Louis, there’s lots of foot traffic, it just steps up the safety, the public safety. Both perceived and actual," he said.
Captain Christi Marks, with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, said SLMPD is also taking extra precautions this weekend.
"Extra patrols will be in the area and both venues will be using off duty personnel and working secondary security. Additionally, there will be a detail for the STL City home opener," she said.
Capt. Marks also reminded everyone to leave their firearms at home and not leave them in their parked cars either.
Staple downtown bars got facelifts and a brand-new athletic club and tavern opened up ahead of the season.
The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern at Union Station opened up right across from CityPark on Feb 27. Some call this spot "soccer heaven" with pieces of St. Louis soccer history covering the walls.
Blaise Pastoret, director of restaurants at Union Station, said they wanted to create something you would see in England.
"I think the location is pretty cool because it’s 50 feet across the intersection right there from the MLS stadium. The MLS team is amazing, the practice fields, the whole concept, so us creating a larger higher end sports bar, soccer bar, is just something new we wanted to inject into the city," he said.
The 8,000 square-foot room is packed with TVs in each corner and many places that you can sit, eat, drink and enjoy.
You can watch any and all sports at the pub, but Pastoret said, The Pitch is a soccer bar.
"Everyone has been waiting so long. It’s going to be exciting. This place is going to be shoulder to shoulder. It’ll be fun," he said.
Pastoret said St. Louis CITY SC is going to bring a whole new vibe and energy to Downtown West.
"You don't see people driving down these streets past 9 p.m. usually. This is going to be a whole different energy. Just watching out of our windows and looking at the stadiums, lights and all that, is just a really cool feeling, so I'm anticipating a lot," he said.
Right next to The Pitch is Maggie O'Briens, which has been downtown since 1979.
Hunter Ricks, Maggie O'Briens manager and event coordinator, said the restaurant just went through a remodel and was closed from August-October.
"Everything you see is brand new from the ceilings down to the floor. Furniture, walls, we got rid of some walls, opened up the space quite a bit, so really everything you see is brand new," she said.
Ricks said the stadium moving in across the street played a big role in the upgrades.
"We wanted to be able to accommodate more people for the stuff that’s going on around us. We kind of needed it. I think we deserved it," she said.
Ricks said excitement is an understatement for her staff and she's ready to see what the team does for this area of downtown.
"I think downtown west deserves that. The stadium’s going to help a lot with that. There’s a lot of new things coming into downtown west in addition to the soccer stadium. I think it’s great," she said.
Union Station is going to host a game day rally for every St. Louis CITY SC home game.
Maggie O'Briens will also have small bars outside around the pub for the first home game.