Any venue can put on an event, but if you want to create a sense of community and inspire growth in your city, it starts and ends with your organization and the people you employ.
Meet Ballpark Village, a relatively new dining and entertainment district, located right next to Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. With a wide variety of spaces including restaurants, bars, lounges, and entertainment venues, it was created to host everything from game-day parties, to private events ranging between 20-10,000 guests. However, these are just the surface features. Standing as a 50/50 partnership between the St. Louis Cardinals and The Cordish Companies, both organizations bring a unique set of underlying values to the table that demand their leadership invest in the community as much as they invest in their own success.
Having interviewed the Director of Cardinals Care a few years ago, I was aware that the idea of “If you have the ability to give back, you should” is a core value that governs everything from general management, to hospitality training, to hiring new team members. It was no surprise then to see why The Cordish Companies brought Tony Caradonna, aka the Beer Man, on board to help make Ballpark Village an epicenter for the St. Louis community.
Saying Tony has a knack for hospitality is probably an understatement at best. He understands that every impression is an opportunity to create a memorable experience for guests and goes out of his way to make sure they come back wanting more. Take where we had our meeting for example. Instead of sitting in some remote conference room, he walked me out to their main deck overlooking 3rd base, practically with the whole stadium as a backdrop to our conversation, where we talked beer, baseball, and Ballpark Village.
Believing that successful organizations are built on quality experiences, hospitality, integrity, and a constant effort to build and nurture long-term relationships, Tony also brings experience in leadership, business development, and strategic design to the table. His nickname as the “Beer Man” comes from his unofficial title as one of the founding fathers of the Missouri craft beer movement. As a tour guide at Anheuser-Busch back in the 80’s, he recognized a unique opportunity and started the first Missouri craft-beer distributorship in 1990. With a decade of incredible success, he sold the company to Major Brands, and then launched his next venture; the O’Fallon Brewing Company. After another decade of award winning achievement, he sold yet another profitable and successful business.
Having created a name for himself both in the St. Louis area and what is now a booming craft-beer industry, The Cordish Companies made the call and asked him to come on board as a key team member to fulfill Ballpark Village’s vision. He said yes, became the 6th team member to join on with Ballpark Village, and is now a key player in helping make Downtown St. Louis the destination it deserves to be.
Ballpark Village just announced plans for a $220M+ project, made up of a 550,000 square foot build-out of Clark Street, with a 29-story luxury high-res residential tower, additional retail, restaurant and entertainment space, structured parking, and the first new Class-A office building built in downtown St. Louis in nearly thirty years. This phase 2 of Ballpark Village will create 2,500 additional new jobs for the community.
Having achieved so much in the mere two and a half years since they opened their doors, Tony reiterated the importance of their views on social responsibility and that this expansion is only the beginning. There’s no checklist per say to what’s next, just a drive for progress and mindset centered on the idea that when you have the ability to give back, you should.
For more information about upcoming community events, you can click here to learn more.
After learning that I had yet to take a tour, Mike Hill, the General Manager of the St. Louis TechShop location, convinced me talking about the space over coffee just wouldn’t do it justice, and told me that I should see it for myself. He was absolutely right. From the outside looking in, you can see a few of the maker spaces and common area, but without a proper tour you’ll miss out on the state of the art waterjet cutting system, the full wood and metal shops, the textiles and clothing production area, and much more. With 18,000 sqft of everything you could possibly imagine to manufacture just about anything, TechShop is definitely worth checking out.
So if you don’t label yourself as a designer, engineer, or maker type, you might be asking yourself why you would be excited about a space like this in St. Louis. The beauty is your title, occupation, education, none of it matters. All you need is a desire to learn and an ounce of creativity. Don’t feel you need to limit yourself to only using TechShop if you have an idea of what you want to make. Most makers have no idea what they want to create until they are introduced to the tools and resources at their disposal. For example, during my tour I met a young woman, who after learning how to use TechShop’s laser cutters, had the idea to reach out to the makers of Pokemon-Go for a license to make themed keychains. After securing a license and paying for materials, she started making an average of over $2,000 in profit each weekend from selling at various fairs and conventions.
Looking beyond the physical assets provided by TechShop, you’ll also gain the benefits that come with being part of a community of entrepreneurs, creatives, and makers. As Mike told me, being able to network with other patrons, all with their own expertise and knowledge waiting for you to tap into, adds another level to the value you gain when joining TechShop.
So what happens when you give the tools of the industrial revolution to the most creative people in your city? This is the idea behind TechShop. Granting access and training at an affordable rate to tools that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and anyone with a creative itch to bring their creation to life.
You can be anyone from anywhere and create anything.
How To Get In Touch
If you’re interested in individual classes, memberships, event nights or corporate events, you can email email@example.com for more information. You can also follow TechShop St. Louis on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to day with their latest updates.
Will it stick? Will it spark engagement? Will it increase conversions? Will it achieve our desired outcomes and produce the results we are looking for? These are the questions we ask ourselves when creating exceptional creative work.
Creating a message that truly resonates with it’s intended audience is no easy feat, but what about the delivery of your message? I think we take for granted the work that goes into a great media strategy. Without having someone who knows how to ensure your message is in the right place at the right time all of the time, even the most creative work can fall flat.
Assuming you hired a rock solid agency to take this burden off your shoulders to create and execute your media strategy, how do you tell if it could have been better? Maybe your expectations were met or even exceeded, but the best of the best know that it’s not about being good, it’s about always looking for ways to be better. With the complexities that come with navigating the media supply chain, it can be cumbersome at best to take on a media audit internally. Your agencies might offer you an after action report, but asking for insights from those with vested interests in the outcomes of your media decisions are probably not the best resource to tap.
After chatting with Mike Solomon, the Chief Media Operations Officer for MMi, a St. Louis based media audit company, he explained to me that as an independent firm, they can maintain media and agency neutrality and deliver pure objectivity. However, these guys aren’t the type of firm you hire to tell you your bait sucks and your boat’s ugly, and leave it at that. As I gained the impression from Mike himself, their entire team is made up of those with an average of 20+ years agency and media experience. They practically have it in their blood to make sure your media delivers the right audience at the right time in the most efficient way possible. With reported spending anywhere from tens of millions to billions solely on media, MMi knows that at the end of the day their goal is is to deliver quantifiable insights that matter, helping clients optimize media planning efforts, and in essence, build a better boat.
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