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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ballpark Farms

Today's announcement that the St. Louis Cardinals will build out the Ballpark Village site with a softball field and parking lot in time for this year's All-Star Game is no big surprise. We all knew that Ballpark Village development was behind schedule, that the recession would stall the project further and that the Cardinals would hastily concoct some beautification plan before the All-Star Game. Yet this is definitely not what we wanted to show the world this year -- a surface parking lot instead of an urban development under construction.

The softball field, however, is a good idea that echoes one offered by Rick Bonasch in a blog post on STL Rising dated March 27, 2008:

What about bringing the site to grade, removing the Ballpark Village Parking Lot, planting sod, and building one or two small diamonds for amateur games?

Sometimes good ideas take time to be adopted. One year isn't bad in St. Louis!

The problem is the huge amount of surface parking that will be built on the site. While a softball field is whimsical, attractive and useful, a parking lot is the ultimate sign of the failure of civic imagination. Transitional uses can be helpful to an urban environment if they offer an activity as people await a development project. A new surface parking lot is not helpful to a downtown that has shed its stagnation for a new life as a vibrant cosmopolitan center.

I propose an alternative for the remainder of the Ballpark Village site that will represent the imagination that we all know St. Louis has. Here is my crude rendering of Ballpark Farms

Instead of a sea of asphalt, how about bumper crops of turnips, corn, greens and tomatoes growing in a new downtown farm? Ballpark Farms would offer more green space, an activity node, and educational possibilities for young fans. (High fencing around crops is required, though, to prevent trampling.) Ballpark Farms would show All Star Game attendees that St. Louis is good at coming up with creative, productive plans for its vacant land -- that even a patch of downtown dirt is an opportunity we know how to seize.


plaidshoes said...

I love this idea! It would be fanatastic to see STL do something like this. I am sure having a farmer's market downtown would be much appreciated by all the tennents of the "new" loft district. So many possibilities with this plan.

GMichaud said...

Great thinking, what you suggest could develop into a fantastic, and relatively cheap solution.
Just remember though these people are no different than the corporate whores that have plundered America.
They will make gold off of the parking.
The real irony is the corporate whores are leaving an America not worth living in, not even for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't know... those people look awfully big, and the softballs might just whap some of those pigs while they least expect a surprise.

GMichaud said...

What I mean to say is that you are suggesting a St. Louis that is creative, exciting and interesting. The corporate whores (am I being too harsh? or not harsh enough) care about nothing except for money, money, money, hence you get a second rate proposal that does nothing for St. Louis.
In many ways these guys are terrorists (perhaps a better word than whore), using money instead of guns.
They are adding nothing to society with their proposal, they are losers not unlike the losers on wall street.

Anonymous said...

Low quality solution to a longer term problem. Since will did dumb ideas become so respected?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Michaud, perhaps the lyrics of this song might help: "Yes, it's through this world I've wandered/I've seen lots of funny men/some will rob you with a six-gun/some with a fountain pen". Woody Guthrie-"Pretty Boy Floyd". To paraphrase (um, loosely, veery loosely) Wm. Shakespeare: A crook by any other name would still smell as rank. Somehow I doubt that farming was what the Cardinals and our benighted leadership in City Hall had in mind for this site. Good for you, Mr. Allen, for suggesting it. H/t to Mr. Bonasch, too. Perhaps we need some guerilla gardeners to come in at 2:33am sometime and plant some nice heirloom tomatoes. Horticultural terrorism: be afraid of the zucchini squash, be VERY afraid.

Michael R. Allen said...

What would be better, oh Anonymous (6:27 a.m.) sage? Do tell!

Anonymous said...

Low quality solution to a longer term problem.

Parking is indeed the lowest quality solution for the site.

Anonymous said...

(a different anon. here) parking does indeed sound like a sorry use.

but it is a bad time to convince investors in hard-shell development.

what about convincing A-B to sponsor a huge beer garden on some of the space on weekends and after games with food stands by locals (not serving in competition with the inside vendors).

an attraction for fans to stick around and hopefully demonstrate to developers there might be a buck to be made.

Chris said...

A-B has what I call the anti-Midas touch; everything it touches turns to crap: Strassenfest, Mardi Gras, any other home grown event that gets "sponsored" by the company.

The last thing we need is an A-B beer garden to attract hoosiers to downtown.

Anonymous said...

yeah, point taken. pity. but they own the land, right? except the part about hoosiers, it's STL, that's like going to Florida and saying somebody needs to do something about these alligators. their dollars are just as good as anyone's. my idea was about generating evidence that maybe a profit can be made on a more permanent basis, that the location, not so much the formula, is viable.

kopper said...

This is just a short-term solution. The parking lot will help curb the huge amount of visitors for the All-Star Game. After that, they can tear it all out and (hopefully) begin work on the REAL Ballpark Village project. Parking lots are cheap and quick to install. A community garden is fantastic idea, I totally agree (I'd love if we had one in Tower Grove South, in fact), but it's not the best location for that lot. A garden should closer to where people actually live (several blocks north, for example), and NOT where thousands of brain-dead, drunken baseball fans are going to trample it to death. Also, the Soulard Farmer's Market is not too far away.