DOWNTOWN, ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) - It may be the strongest sign yet the Ballpark Village development next to Busch Stadium in Downtown St. Louis is no longer just a pipe dream. The Cardinals announced a new, big name anchor tenant for phase 1 of Ballpark Village, Tuesday: Anhesuer-Busch.
Visitors will be able to sit on the roof of the new Anheuser-Busch sponsored restaurant and brew pub and watch the Cardinals play from across the street.
When people look north from the ballpark, they`ll finally see something beyond what's been there since the stadium was finished in 2006.
'Dirt,' laughed Noelle Hoag, a visitor from Philadelphia, looking at the make-shift ball diamond and parking lot that replaced a long-standing water-filled hole at the site.
'Boring, pretty dry looking. You don`t really want to take a picture of it or anything like that,' she said.
'Right now it looks like a wasteland,' said Craig Weiss, a Washington University grad from New York making his first return to St. Louis in 20 years. 'It is just of waste of space.'
They loved the view shown in a rendering of the $100 million phase 1 of the development, released by the Cardinals and the clout of the name on the atop the new sign atop the building in the drawing: Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser.
'Our investment in Ballpark Village is the next chapter in a long and storied history between Anheuser-Busch, the Cardinals, and the City of St. Louis,' said Luiz Edmond, North American President of Anheuser-Busch-InBev.
The 'wasteland' days may indeed be coming to an end.
'It`s the sweet spot in terms of the view back into the ballpark,' Cardinals President, Bill DeWitt III, said of the location. 'We take advantage of that in a lot of different ways, [it will] be something that creates that interactive feeling between what`s happening in the ballpark and what`s happening in the city right next door. That`s one of the beauties of having this urban site, because this development that`s growing up just north of Clark Street is part of the city; in the heart of the city and add to that ambiance beyond the outfield walls of Busch Stadium I think Anheuser-Busch is doing something that really speaks to their commitment downtown.'
The first phase will roughly stretch from left to center field; with a something called 'St. Louis Live' as a center-piece: a plaza with a retractable glass roof ; with the 'Cardinals Nation' Hall of Fame and Museum on one side and the still unnamed Anheuser-Busch venue on the other.
'Cardinals Nation' and the A-B venue will each offering roof top seating for ball games. The plaza will feature live entertainment.
Developer, David Cordish, of Cordish Companies, said similar Cordish venues from Los Angeles to Philadelphia drew up to 9 million visitors each year.
'The live district in the middle of this first phase of Ballpark Village will have really the feel of a live venue, a performance venue, that also doubles as kind of a downtown living room of sorts,' DeWitt said.
'Ballpark`s should be part of the city that`s kind of what they are back East. They`re part of the city; part of the fabric of life,' Weiss said.
'We wanted to see a game actually so that would have been perfect for us to sit on top of the roof top,' Hoag said.
'I know about Anheuser-Busch and Budweiser,' said Jim Magaw, also visiting from Philadelphia. 'I know that they`re a big part of town. You pretty much see it everywhere you look around the town. So, that looks like a great spot for Anheuser-Busch,' he said, looking at the dirt and asphalt.
Weiss said he`d consider a return trip to Busch Stadium, perhaps to see his beloved New York Mets, if Ballpark Village was there.
'If you`re buying, I`m here,' he laughed.
The target date for completion is Opening Day 2014.
The Cardinals are buying all of the bonds which will finance the project.
Dewitt said phase 1 would hopefully be a magnet for investment in future phases, which would include office space and residential units.