ST. LOUIS — Owners of some downtown St. Louis bars and restaurants are fretting over the early success of the new Ballpark Village as they see a decline at their own establishments.
The retail and entertainment district next to Busch Stadium opened in April after years of planning. St. Louis Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (bit.ly/1nbDIVP) that he expects the complex to attract more than 6 million visitors in its initial year. Cardinals say Ballpark Village supports 1,200 full- and part-time jobs.
"I feel real good about that number," he said. "What extent of that is honeymoon and what percent is sustainable, I don't know," he said.
At Paddy O's bar, owner Chris Dorr said he's had to cut employees' hours and also lost six workers to the baseball-themed village. Paddy O's and other baseball-focused bars south of the stadium close when the Cardinals are out of town and shut down each winter.
"The bar business is definitely down from prior years," he said.
First-time visitor Jim Lueders of Houston called Ballpark Village, a $100 million development that includes a 40-foot LED television, retractable glass roof and 300-plus ticketed rooftop seats from which fans can watch Cardinal games, "magnificent." His friend Martha Simpson of Chesterfield said that smaller nearby businesses are right to be concerned.
"I'd be worried," she said. "I'd be very worried."
Dorr said Paddy O's is responding to the challenge with a wider variety of beer prices and by hiring Todd Thomas, Busch Stadium's longtime between-inning entertainer, as the bar's postgame disc jockey.
"BPV is here to stay, so we must adapt to the new competition and create a more compelling reason to stop at Paddy O's," he said.
In addition to bars and restaurants such as the Budweiser Brew House, Ballpark Village is home to the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. It also offers outdoor movies, free weekly yoga and free and discounted outdoor concerts.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com