CityPark - St. Louis City SC
Photos by Andrew Kulyk, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
2100 Market St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
Year Opened: 2022
St. Louis SC Soccer
The city of St. Louis has a rich and storied soccer tradition spanning over a century, both at the amateur and professional levels. So it was a no-brainer that as the MLS was rapidly expanding and in search of new markets, it would be St. Louis that would be high on the priority list.
In the early 2010s, plans were put in place for a stadium featuring a hybrid NFL field and soccer pitch, with the primary goal of keeping the NFL St. Louis Rams from relocating. That effort fizzled, and the Rams did indeed move back to their original home in Los Angeles. The focus then became a soccer-specific venue, and a long sought-after site on the western fringes of downtown, adjacent to historic Union Station, was presented to the MLS expansion committee.
When the league expanded to 30 teams in 2019, St. Louis was awarded one of the new franchises, aided by a strong presentation with renderings of a gleaming new stadium, and a solid ownership group led by Carolyn Kindle Betz, making this team the first major franchise with a female controlling owner. CityPark opened its doors in the spring of 2023, ushering in a new and exciting era in St. Louis sports history.
Food & Beverage 5
Oh, where to begin? The entire array of concessions presentation involves locally sourced products and eateries, not a single corporate chain here and the choices are endless. Union Loafers Café and Bread for the Bavarian pretzel. Nudo on the club level for crab Rangoon. Mayo Ketchup sells empanadas. Pie Guy and Dewey’s offers pizza by the slice.
There are no fewer than three taco eateries here, Malinche, La Tiendita, and Padrino’s, even adding frozen margaritas. Amighetti’s, a well-known bistro located on The Hill in St. Louis, brings their classic sandwich loaded with ham, roast beef, salami, and Provel.
Even the hot dogs and burgers here aren’t boring. Stands named Farmtruk and The Block add bacon jam and even a burger topped with brisket mac.
But what caught our eye was the unveiling of technology we have not encountered on any previous stadium visit anywhere. Several concession stands employ overhead scanning technology. Swipe your credit card for entry to a secured browsing area, grab beverages, handhelds, or chips from serving areas or coolers, and simply walk out. Your purchase is tracked overhead and automatically billed.
The jolt of electricity that makes this place roar is a specially designed supporters section in the north end stands. This general admission section features a higher-pitched seating arrangement than the rest of the sections in the stadium, with standing rails in front of each row of seats, and fans practically cascading onto the pitch. The full-throated fans, the drums and instruments, the chants, and the flags, are all in full gear, and that energy spills into the rest of the stadium. It is a complete Euro soccer experience here which is fast being replicated in the newer peer MLS venues.
The Downtown West Neighborhood can best be described as a work in progress. The anchor for the district is the historic Union Station, no longer a functioning train station but has been restored and renovated into a mixed-use entertainment hub with a hotel and numerous restaurants and amusement destinations, including a giant Ferris wheel.
It looks like this development has gone past its prime, with several storefront vacancies and a lack of substantial foot traffic. The stadium has also leveraged additional adjacent investments, with a good number of hotels, and mid-rise condominiums and housing. Mixed into this are several classic and historic brick structures, many already renovated. St. Louis SC also maintains an adjacent practice field and a team store called CITY Pavilion across Market Street.
Local recommended pubs and eateries near CityPark include Maggie O’Briens on Market Street, Syberg’s On Market, which is a local chain, The Schlafly Tap Room on Locust Street, where pre and post-game tailgating outdoors is the norm, Hellcat Pub on Olive Street. Our favorite is the Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern which is part of Union Station, with an entry to the outside street curbside. This soccer-themed tavern is replete with MLS and other soccer memorabilia, lots of big screens, and comfy seating areas. A definite top-tier hangout for fans.
It is easy to give the St. Louis City SC fan base top grades, as they have welcomed their new team to their city with open arms. They have sold out their allocation of season tickets for the 22,500-seat venue and have established a waitlist. Fans can purchase a membership for $55 on the team’s website which places them on the waitlist and provides presale access for single game tickets and other perks. In the inaugural 2023 season, this ticket is a hot one, with all games sold out and a robust resale market fetching premium prices. The team’s hot start and winning record in 2023 are further fueling team interest and box office sales.
We already referenced the neighborhood, but now add that surface parking and ramp parking are pretty ample throughout the district. Spot Hero is a good reference to find a lot in an appropriate price range with $13-$25 being pretty much the norm.
There is public transportation access, via bus lines 4 and 94, which will drop fans right at the park. St. Louis has a light rail system called Metrolink, with the nearest stop to the stadium at the Union Station station, which means a roughly ten-minute walk to CityPark. Highly recommended for fans of trains and subways.
Legal parking spots on the street are in abundance, with kiosks accepting card payments. On Sundays, street parking is free, so early arrivals can snag a spot and save.
Return on Investment 2
St. Louis SC has one of the most expensive pricing structures in MLS, with window prices for most games running anywhere from $85-$175 per ticket. The league has partnered up with SeatGeek as an official ticket supplier, so that site is also the top destination for resale tickets. For the bargain-hunting fan, resellers offer little respite to the wallet. Be prepared to pay.
Concessions, while offering a tempting array and selection, are also going at hefty prices. Some examples include domestic beer for $9.50, craft beer for $11, and water for $6.50. A bottomless soda that fans can refill at any self-serve station is $9. The food examples include steak or chicken tacos for $16, smoked sausage with peppers and onions for $16, pepperoni or sausage pizza for $10, and beef kebab for $18. A plain old all-beef hot dog will cost $10.
Club seating… St. Louis SC offers three distinct club seat experiences, but the one that caught our attention is the Ultra Club, located in the south end zone. This area has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the pitch on one side and into the St. Louis West neighborhood on the other side. What is most distinctive is the array of LED light panels buttressing the ceiling, visible from the outside as well, and offering fans a superb sensory experience.
Pillars of the Valley… St. Louis soccer fans still talk about how five of their local lads helped power the United States soccer team over England in that year’s World Cup, still regarded as a huge upset. But another story emerges from the 50s… when urban renewal projects came into that very same neighborhood, displacing tens of thousands of residents and destroying neighborhoods. This sad story from that era has been replicated in many American cities during that time.
So outside the stadium, they built a pocket park and urban sculpture to commemorate the people who were affected during that time. As part of the “Brickline Greenway”, this park delineates property parcels by house number amongst the brick pavers, anchored by the Pillars of the Valley art installation and surrounded by plaques and displays which retell the story. It is poignant. It is moving. It is a must-see for the first-time visitor to this stadium.
What makes a game day here at CityPark is a perfect storm of several elements… a gleaming new stadium with excellent sightlines, comfortable seating, and stunning visuals. An adjoining neighborhood that offers ancillary food, entertainment, and lodging for the visitor. Proximity to the rest of downtown St. Louis, a very walkable and fun city, of course, the MLB St. Louis Cardinals and the adjoining Ballpark Village a must-stop for the sports traveler. Remember too that no trip to St. Louis is complete without a trip to the famed Gateway Arch, a true piece of Americana. Citypark joins some of its other peer newer MLS peer venues in offering a true Euro-style soccer experience in an intimate setting, and it is venues like this one which is helping to grow the sport.