The Equity Factor

Subsidies Underwrite Racist Dress Code in St. Louis Ballpark Village

A bar inside Ballpark Village, a new St. Louis dining and entertainment hub with an impossibly strict dress code. Credit: AP Photo

Baseball season is around the corner, which means $8 beers at publicly funded ballparks. This summer, fans of the St. Louis Cardinals can knock back Budweisers at the brand new Ballpark Village, a dining and entertainment hub opening across the street from Busch Stadium. That is, if you meet the latently racist nighttime dress code.

Ballpark Village itself doesn’t have a dress code., but as the website notes, individual venues within the venue may enforce one. And hey, eight venues in the village — just about all of them, according to my count on the website — have an awfully stringent dress code for the types of bars generally populated by aggressively drunk guys in Ozzie Smith jerseys and cargo shorts.

Here’s the post-9pm dress code:

The following is not permitted under our dress code after 9pm: sleeveless shirts on men, profanity on clothing, exposed undergarments on men, sweat pants, full sweat suits, excessively long shirts (when standing upright with arms at your side, the bottom of your shirt can not extend below the tip of your fingers), jerseys (sleeved jerseys are permitted in conjunction with a cardinals game or any other major St. Louis sporting event), athletic shorts and excessively sagging pants or shorts bandanas.

I hope they have nuns as bouncers checking shirt length like it’s Catholic grade school.

Baltimore-based developer Cordish Companies is the brainchild behind Ballpark Village. It’s the same firm that built Kansas City’s Power & Light entertainment district, which is currently facing two lawsuits alleging racial discrimination against black customers.

It’s worth mentioning that this is only the first phase of Ballpark Village. The $100 million project received $17 million in state and local incentives approved by the Missouri Development Finance Board in 2012 — something that Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III called “a big relief.”

Last year St. Louis Alderman Scott Ogilvie struck a different tone, telling the Riverfront Times, “It is completely unacceptable that the citizens of St. Louis have been asked to subsidize two themed bars [and a parking lot].” Future phases of the project could receive subsidies of up to $183.5 million.

Taxpayers of Missouri and greater St. Louis, your hard-earned money is underwriting exclusionary sports bars with racist undertones.

The Equity Factor is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

Bill Bradley is based in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in The Daily, Bloomberg Businessweek, GQ.com and Vanity Fair, among others. Follow him on Twitter @billbradley3.

Tags: equity factorst. louisstadium welfarescott ogilviebaseballst. louis cardinalsballpark village