Ballpark Village development on hold -

Ballpark Village development on hold

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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Construction on a long-delayed retail, entertainment and industrial development the St. Louis Cardinals promised to build when the team secured city backing for its new ballpark remains on hold, a team executive said.

Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for a story published Friday that financing for Ballpark Village, a planned $520 million development that would be built next to Busch Stadium, remains uncertain but that he's convinced it will eventually be built.

"We don't have full confidence that this market is ready for it yet," he said.

For now, it appears the parking lot and softball field that occupy the site will remain in 2010.

The Cardinals are co-developers of Ballpark Village, along with Cordish Co. of Baltimore. Plans call for the site to become home to retail stores, entertainment and office space.

The Cardinals first promised to build Ballpark Village seven years ago as part of a city-backed plan to build a new Busch Stadium. The original goal was to have the village built in time for the 2009 All-Star Game. The Cardinals could face a $3 million annual penalty starting in 2012 if the project is not completed.

The project floundered after a leasing deal with Centene Corp. fell through last year, followed by the economic meltdown and global credit crunch.

DeWitt was unsure when the Missouri Development Finance Board would be asked for final approval of state subsidies for Ballpark Village. Asked if that might happen in 2010, he said, "I'm done predicting."

He said talks continue for leasing of space at Ballpark Village, but did not elaborate.

During a speech on the economics of baseball Thursday at Webster University, DeWitt said the Cardinals, playing in a mid-sized market, rely more heavily on revenue from ticket sales than teams in larger markets. The team has seen an increase in season ticket sales every year since moving into the new Busch Stadium in 2006.

Cardinals fans "overachieve in terms of our market size," DeWitt said. "My focus -- what keeps me up at night -- is how do we renew and add season-ticket holders?"

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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