Forever it seemed to sit mostly empty across the street from new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A huge tract of land where old Busch Stadium (or "middle" Busch, if you go back to Sportsman's Park in the Stan Musial era) used to be. Finally in 2013, after much squabbling and delay, developers started to build "Ballpark Village," a mall of sorts with a glass retractable roof that includes sports bars, other restaurants of varying quality and rooftop bleachers. With this venture, the St. Louis Cardinals appear to be copying the Chicago Cubs and their Wrigleyville scene.
It sounds fancy, doesn't it? For $100 million, it ought to be. It's so fancy, there's a written dress code posted at the village website. Reporter David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch crafted a wonderfully descriptive lead that sets off some alarm bells regarding the dress code:
Gents, don’t come to Busch Stadium in a tank top this summer with plans to grab a postgame beer at Ballpark Village. Sleeveless shirts, for men, are one of the many items banned from bars and restaurants in the new complex after 9 p.m.
Athletic shorts are barred after dark. As are sweat suits, team jerseys (unless it’s game day, of course) — and children.
Present arms — but only with sleeves! And, at one establishment:
One of the bars, the Budweiser Brew House, even prohibits hats on its second level.
So, at a place calling itself "Ballpark Village," which will generate most of its traffic from the Major League Baseball games played across the street, there exist restrictions on fans wearing baseball jerseys and caps. And no tank tops and athletic shorts — in St. Louis, which in the summer is hotter than Allen Craig with runners in scoring position. Oh, and you can't take your kids after 9 p.m.
No tank tops. In St. Louis. Why don't they just ban the American flag while we're at it?
These policies, in context, make zero sense. The Cardinals are a business partner with the developers who are making "Ballpark Village." Why would they allow a policy that limits fans patronizing a collection of sports bars from wearing one of their jerseys?
Dress codes often are lawful, even reasonable and useful at times. But this Ballpark Village totalitarianism isn't even close. It's certainly not baseball.
And we haven't even gotten to another part of the dress code, in which other restrictions come awfully close to what the ACLU has said are racist policies designed to curb the business of black patrons.
Check this out:
No sagging pants. No exposed undergarments on men. No profanity on clothing. And no “excessively long shirts,” which the website painstakingly defines thusly: “When standing upright with arms at your side, the bottom of your shirt cannot extend below the tip of your fingers.”
Shirt fascism! Who thinks of this stuff? Forget the ACLU fighting this, or some kind of intervention by local government. Come to Busch Stadium, but get off our lawn across the street. Ballpark Village hasn't even opened yet (it happens Thursday!) and it's already advertising itself as a place no self-respecting baseball fan should want to patronize.
No tank tops. In St. Louis!
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post had contradictory language implying that jerseys could never be worn at establishments inside of Ballpark Village after 9 p.m. That's not true for "game days," when they're allowed.]
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