Sports-Oriented Development Starts (Slowly) in St. Louis

It's not the grand slam that the Cardinals and their developer partner were hoping for, but news that the first piece of the $650 million Ballpark Village development project has started construction was welcomed in St. Louis.

With cautious city officials and investors sitting on the sidelines, the St. Louis Cardinals and their developer partner started construction on the $100 million first phase of their ambitious Ballpark Village project, a $650 million mixed-use entertainment-oriented development located adjacent to their downtown stadium, reports Maura Webber Sadovi.

"The developers are hoping to generate interest in the broader project by starting with a smaller piece and adding streets and other infrastructure to make the 10-acre site ready for development. But analysts said financing and the project's completion remain a challenge, as cities and investors more carefully scrutinize entertainment-oriented developments."

"Sports- and entertainment-based facilities have had a really mixed history of success, so investors are becoming pickier about what they do," said Joseph Krist, a municipal-credit analyst with a unit of Swiss bank UBS AG. "Before the financial crisis, there was a greater appetite."

"St. Louis needs the spark that the project may bring," notes Sadovi. "The city's population has dropped more than 50% since 1950 to an estimated 318,000 in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

"It's a great start," said Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, "They're not just building a stadium and hoping and wishing."

Full Story: Cardinals Build a Village

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