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Officials defend Ballpark Village dress code

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS - Project managers for the new Ballpark Village next to Busch Stadium say they want the entertainment complex to be "family-friendly," even as some raise concerns about a strict late-night dress code.

Ballpark Village, a complex across the street from Busch Stadium featuring nightlife, bars and restaurants, has been years in the making. A grand opening was scheduled for Thursday. It includes a 35-foot television, a retractable glass roof and 300-plus ticketed rooftop seats from which fans can watch ballgames.

Ballpark Village will have a strict dress code after 9 p.m., The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported this week. Among the things banned are sweat pants, bandanas, profanity on clothing, sleeveless shirts and exposed undergarments on men and even team jerseys - except on game days.

Alderman Antonio French questioned the dress code.

"This place is going to be a destination for a lot of tourists, a lot of people visiting our city," French said. "We hope the message is that they are welcome. Everyone wants to keep high standards, of course. But discriminating against people based on fashion is not a very welcoming message."

The St. Louis Cardinals say the dress code is not a complex-wide policy, though most of the bars will adhere to it. The restaurant owned by the team, Cardinals Nation, prohibits only obscene or indecent clothing.

Team president Bill DeWitt III said a nighttime dress code was reasonable.

"You don't want people in bare feet and no shirts," DeWitt said. "That's not a visitor these clubs are looking to attract."

Co-developer Cordish Co.'s rules on attire have raised concerns at some of its other developments, including Fourth Street Live in in Louisville, Ky., and the Power & Light entertainment district in Kansas City, Mo. Earlier this month, lawyers filed suit alleging a pattern of discrimination at the Kansas City complex.

The Ballpark Village dress code is nearly identical to that at Power & Light.

"I have a concern about who the dress code is targeting," said Jacque Land, former president of 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.

"There's this implication it's a racist thing," DeWitt said of the dress code. "And it's not."

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