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ST. LOUIS-The St. Louis Cardinals want to spruce things up for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be played at Busch Stadium here on July 14, 2009. To do so, the league plans to create a softball field and parking lot on an empty lot that is set to eventually house the $600-million Ballpark Village.

The Cardinals, joint partner developers with Baltimore-based Cordish Co., will put a temporary softball field and paved parking lot on the empty plot directly across from the ballpark, where the old park once stood. They emphasis the temporary aspect of this fix, saying the mixed-use development that was first announced years ago, will again begin to move forward once bonds are sold to fund the project.

“The softball field and parking lot are temporary but welcomed improvements designed to provide additional amenities to our fans as we wait for final approvals on the larger Ballpark Village plan,” says Bill DeWitt, president of the Cardinals, in a statement. “The softball field will be a great draw for groups and charities and the new paved area will accommodate the All-Star Gala tent and Sponsorship Village during All-Star week.”

Additionally, the empty lot will house a food area designed by SportService. “These amenities will showcase downtown St. Louis in the best possible light and create anticipation for the exciting future plans for Ballpark Village,” DeWitt says.

The creation of the softball field, parking lot and food area is expected to be complete by opening day, April 6, 2009. When the bonds are sold to fund Ballpark Village the field and parking lot will be overtaken to make way for the project. Phase one, estimated to cost $300 million, will include 325,000 square feet of office space as well as 250,000 square feet of retail space. The Ballpark Village project was first announced in 2005.

Simultaneous with the Cardinal’s announcement, Gov. Jay Nixon presented plans to give additional state funding to promote tourism to St. Louis around the All-Star Game.

“Baseball is an integral part of the fabric of Missouri, and it’s a pastime generations of our citizens have enjoyed,” Nixon says in a release. “Hosting the 2009 All-Star Game is not only a chance for Missourians to celebrate their passion for baseball, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to boost our state’s economy as visitors from across the country and around the globe head to Busch Stadium.”

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