Yesterday marked a historic milestone for CityPark, formerly known as Centene Stadium, in Downtown West - it opened its doors to soccer fans ushering in a new era for the surrounding neighborhood.
After over two years of construction, and years of anticipation, St. Louis City SC put on quite the show last night when City2, their secondary team, hosted an international friendly with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The final score of the game was 0-3 with Bayer 04 winning the game. Despite the loss, thousands of fans enjoyed the game and not once during the game did the St. Louligans lose their energy as they banged drums and cheered on City2.
According to St. Louis City SC, the event was a sellout and such a crowd on such a cold night (the temperature was 30 with a breeze, making it feel in the low 20s) put every aspect of the stadium to the test. All systems seemed to do well in their first test prior to the primary MLS season beginning next year, but some issues with vendors were evident. Issues such as long lines that prevented the flow of guests in the interior concourse occasionally caused the flow of people to halt. Other vendors began running out of food and hot drinks shortly after half-time. I encountered one stand having problems with their devices for checking items out.
Other issues, such as unfinished sidewalks, yet to be revealed signage, and the not yet complete parking garage at 1900 Olive all seemed to not cause any problems. Guests successfully found parking spaces and navigated their way to the stadium with apparent relative ease. All of these issues are good to have now so they can be worked out and/or completed prior to the first game of St. Louis City SC taking place next year.
Having watched this site go from the interchange of an unbuilt highway to construction site to the newest stadium in St. Louis has been an exciting thing to witness. Sending my drone up multiple times over nearly two years to document progress was fun to do. It's surreal to stand in the same places where, just over 3 months ago, I stood when finishing construction work was ongoing and some finishes weren't even in yet. It was even more surreal when both the German and United States national anthems were played, and the crowd went crazy as the first game kicked off.
There's no more waiting. CityPark is open and here to stay.
The event also gives Downtown West businesses a taste of what's to come next year and beyond. To the south of the stadium, Maggie O'Briens recently reopened after an intense renovation just as work on a new soccer-themed bar at the southeast corner of 20th and Market (in Union Station), called "The Pitch", gets well underway. To the north of the stadium, Amsterdam Tavern, a Tower Grove South staple, is rumored to be considering a location on the first floor of 2200 Locust (this has yet to be confirmed). Another Tower Grove South staple, the London Tea Room, recently moved to a new location at 1900 Locust. Other businesses such as Sybergs (to the west) and Schlafly (to the north) are perfectly positioned to pick up crowds from game days and other events.
All nearby businesses, whether they be a restaurant, bar, or hotel, will benefit from CityPark and City SC's success.
I look forward to attending many more games here in the future and look forward to seeing how things end up. CityPark is a special place for many people. New memories and friendships will be made here. I can't wait to see what happens next.
CityPark was designed jointly by HOK and Snow-Kreilich architects. It was built by Alberici, Mortenson and L. Keeley. Tarlton is building the parking garage at 1900 Olive.
If you missed it, here's a write-up I did back in August when CityPark was still known as Centene Stadium and construction work was still ongoing. Downtown West Reborn: A Visit to Centene Stadium (August 11th, 2022)
Additional photos from the inaugural event are below.