Businesses, residents prepare as CITYPARK set to open to fans Wednesday

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 5:55 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - The anticipation is undeniable as St. Louis residents get ready for the community’s first soccer match inside CITYPARK.

“It feels like I’ve been waiting since I came to America,” said Carlos Restrepo, who moved to St. Louis in 2005. “I literally have dreamt about what it’s going to be like when we celebrate our first goal in our new stadium, and I really hope it happens this Wednesday.”

Season ticket holders shared their excitement over next week’s friendly match between CITY 2 & Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

“It’s great to have soccer here in St. Louis,” said Hector Gonzalez, who is going to watch the game with his dad and two cousins.

While it’s not the official St. Louis CITY SC team that will be on the pitch come next week, fans and businesses see it as a trial run for what is to come when the 2023 season kicks off.

“A day like that you’re looking at for sure 50 to 60 people on staff,” said Eddie McVey.

McVey is the owner of Maggie O’Brien’s, which has been a staple to the community for more than 40 years.

‘We’ve always done a decent to a very good business, and this would certainly be icing on the cake for us,” said McVey.

Today, the Downtown pub reopened for the first time since July after months of renovations and remodeling. Changes to the space include new flooring, lighting, a huge extension of their bar, a larger dining space, and an upgraded kitchen. McVey says these changes, as well as their history of catering to large-scale events like Blues games and St. Patrick’s Day, is what they think will help them be ready for St. Louis soccer.

“A big part of this isn’t just the look, but it’s also the flow of the place, from a server standpoint, from the bartender standpoint, and then even from the patrons being able to get through easier,” said McVey. “It’s not as chopped up as it used to be.”

With their reopening just on the heels of next week’s game across the street, he says they are ready to see new foot traffic in the area.

“We’re just looking for increase in revenues, and I just love that this end of the city now is really, in the last five years I feel like, has started to get some more and more action,” he said. “We’re throwing darts at the board right now. Once we get a couple under our belt, we’ll really start having a feel for it, and at that point, you just start making adjustments as best you can.”

Fans like Gonzalez tell News 4 they expect to experience some hiccups when it comes to their experience inside the newly built stadium, but the most important part for them is getting to witness soccer finally played on their home turf.

“I’m sure there’s going to be some hiccups but I’m not going to worry about it or be too focused on it,” said Gonzalez. “I think part of it is just being part of that experience, being one of the first people to be in the stadium for the event, so I’ll take it as it goes and I’m sure they’ll be ready for it when the season starts if there’s any issues or concerns that come up.”