ST. LOUIS – When the St. Louis Cardinals return to play at Busch Stadium next month, it will likely be without fans in the stands. However, Fox 2 has learned the fan ban is not written in stone.
St. Louis is built for baseball; look at Ballpark Village. With all the changes in the $260 million Phase 2 expansion over the past year, people may not recognize a lot of it.
The new Sports & Social restaurant, bar, and social gaming venue opened a week ago.
The spiffy new outdoor plaza is ready. But the place is just not the same without the games.
News of the Cardinals return has been dampened by news that it will likely be to an empty ballpark; no fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A city known as “Baseball Heaven” seems to be searching for its baseball mojo.
“I don’t know if fans will be able to go a baseball game in this abbreviated season. It seems unlikely today,” said St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The city health department has approved the Cardinals proposed safety frame work for players only, she said. It will include spacing of players’ lockers, sanitizing gear, periodic COVID-19 testing, and daily temperature checks.
The Cardinals’ ticket director is still hopeful for socially distanced fans in the stands, perhaps up to 25 percent capacity.
“I’m just happy the season’s starting. It’s the way it is. Like, it’s set up right now with the pandemic,” said James West, a Cardinals fan. “It’s just how it’s got to go. Take what you can get.”
The mayor did not rule out fans attending games at some point.
“As I’ve said many times before, things have changed quickly,” Krewson said.
There’s also hope Ballpark Village will be able to use a portion of its close to 340 rooftop seats for people to watch the games in the stadium across the street.
“We are exploring the options to be able to utilize those spaces for fan viewing,” said Mike Lamartina, chief revenue officer for Ballpark Village. “Obviously, it would done at a reduced capacity and probably a different model and not through a ticket system…I don’t think we’ve lost the mojo. I think like anything we’ve seen on the heels of the pandemic and having the stoppage, we’re waiting to see what the next bit of information is. The public wants to understand how and when and what it looks like for them.”
Meanwhile, PBR St. Louis reopens Friday at Ballpark Village. The rest of the attractions will reopen in phases over the next two to three weeks.
Team practices at Busch Stadium begin next week, with games starting about three weeks after that.