ST. LOUIS – Starting opening day, the St. Louis City Health Department will allow 32% fan capacity for Cardinals baseball games at Busch Stadium; that’s more than 14,000 fans. It’s one of the biggest signs yet that St. Louis may be nearing the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There’s a definite economic boost that will come with it. Perhaps, even more importantly, there’s a sense of St. Louis getting its “mojo” back after an entire season with no fans allowed at the stadium.
“Just for the vibe that you have,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said.
“There’s a vibe down here,” Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III echoed .
It has fans dreaming about hearing those sounds of St. Louis summer again.
“I love that crack of the bat,” said one fan, working outside the ballpark, Thursday. “That’s the sound of Summer.”
“Going from zero to something in a win to start with,” Mike LaMartina, Ballpark Village’s chief operating officer said. “Thirty-two percent, 15,000 is a great win for us. The expectation is that will continue to grow.”
It’s like pushing “restart” for the $260-million Ballpark Village phase 2 expansion which debuted last season but with no fans at the ballpark.
There are new additions like Salt & Smoke restaurant opening in May and the One Cardinal Way residential high rise, already 90% booked.
LaMartina said momentum has been building with a recent series of limited seat events, including concerts at Ballpark Village.
“Everyone who’s come so far has been excited about it and really felt like they missed out on seeing something being revealed last year…I think everyone’s excited,” LaMartina said. “I think everyone’s excited to put on their red, come down, see the birds, and just be around it.”
“Aero fans, that’s not exactly a good way to break it in,” DeWitt III said. “Everyone who does come down to games, they’ll finally see it.”
Fan favorite, Paddy O’s bar & restaurant just south of the ballpark, had been open only Thursday through Sunday during the pandemic will shift back to 7 days -a- week according to owner Donald Keener.
“It’s very important that as people come back into downtown that they feel good about that. Part of that is keeping traffic restrictors in place and having the additional law enforcement presence,” Mayor Krewson said. “It’s so important to be able to have people in seats in Busch stadium, 13,000-15,000 people to start…it is another sign of the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I think there’s so much pent-up demand of people who just want to do something communal,” DeWitt III said. “I can’t imagine when the season starts how much better it’s going to be to just feel that energy down here.”
Ticket sales will start next week with priority given to season ticket holders, he said.
Only one month of games at a time will be sold with the expectation that the ballpark may return to full capacity in the Summer.
Covid-19 protocols will remain in effect at the ballpark, Ballpark Village, and Paddy O’s, just like everywhere else.