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First phase of Ballpark Village opens

After years of planning and construction, St. Louis' Ballpark Village is now open to the public. The Cardinals and Cordish Companies celebrated Thursday the completion of the $100 million first phase of the project with a formal grand opening, a dedication ceremony and a free public concert featuring Third Eye Blind.

"Ballpark Village will be a regional entertainment destination, giving all of us another reason to come early and stay late in Downtown St. Louis," St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay, said in a statement.

The 120,000-square foot facility, located just north of Busch Stadium, includes the Cardinals Nation restaurant -- home to the new Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum -- the Budweiser Brew House, Fox Sports Midwest Live! -- featuring a $1 million video board that is the Midwest's largest indoor TV outside of a stadium setting -- an outdoor recreation of Busch Stadium II's infield in its exact location, several live performance stages and additional restaurants and bars.

The first phase also includes the infrastructure needed to further expand the development of the 10-acre site in the future, which will allow for more efficient construction of future phases.

"We believe our fans will fall in love with Ballpark Village and all that it has to offer beyond even game days," said Bill DeWitt Jr., chairman and CEO of the Cardinals. "We anticipate that Cardinals Nation and Ballpark Village will be where the best fans in baseball will come to play all year round."

All venues are open for business after the grand opening ceremony, and individual grand openings are planned for each venue, culminating with the Cardinals Nation Museum and Hall of Fame opening and an Opening Day rally on April 7, prior to the Cardinals' home opener.

"We appreciate patience and unyielding support of our fans, as well as the commitment and support of so many others on the long journey toward making this a remarkable vision a reality," said team president Bill DeWitt III. "I'm excited for our fans to experience Ballpark Village."

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for

St. Louis Cardinals