A Tale of Two Stadiums: Why the Brickline Greenway Matters at City SC
As construction continues to progress on St. Louis City SC's new as-yet-unnamed stadium, the team has given new details about what fans will see when walking up to those first games in 2023. In conjunction with Great Rivers Greenway, City have released renderings of the Brickline Greenway which will pass along the Market Street side of the stadium.
The greenway itself is an exciting part of the landscaping around the stadium, making it one of the most bike-accessible locations downtown, but one of the most striking features of the new renderings is the art installation by local artist Damon Davis that fans will pass through on their way into the southwest entrance. The art commemorates the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, and its importance can be told through the story of two stadiums.
The new City SC Stadium will anchor the east end of the Brickline Greenway and should be a place of civic pride for St. Louisans, hopefully hosting many years of great soccer and adding to St. Louis' proud major league sports history. A mile west, at the other end of the greenway, once stood another lesser-known major league stadium: Stars Park.
Long before the St. Louis Stars of soccer's NASL, St. Louis was home to the Stars of the Negro National League. The team played their home games at Stars Park at the corner of Compton and Market, making them one of the few Negro Leagues teams to build their own stadium. Despite the success of the Stars, winning three pennants, for decades not a single picture could be found of the exterior of their stadium until the one seen in this article was discovered by the Missouri Historical Society in 2016. In 2020, Major League Baseball officially recognized the Negro Leagues as part of major league history alongside the National and American Leagues. So, how can an entire major league stadium not be better documented?
The Stars were a team of African-Americans in a city where sports reporters had two white baseball teams to watch, and the team disappeared when the NNL folded in the 1930s. The area of St. Louis in which they played was known as Mill Creek Valley, a predominantly black neighborhood that was demolished as part of "urban renewal" programs at the end of the 1950s, displacing some 20,000 residents. Now the new City SC stadium is being built in part of what was once Mill Creek Valley, and the art that will stand outside the stadium will help tell the story of that neighborhood, a neighborhood that has housed two major league stadiums built almost exactly a century apart.
Busch Stadium now plays home to baseball games in the location where St. Louis' Chinese neighborhood once stood before being bulldozed by politicians. City's stadium is being built in a neighborhood that once belonged to African-Americans. Public art alone will not fix societal issues, but in an era where racism in sports continues to rear its ugly head, it matters that the team is helping to acknowledge the troubled racial history of the city, and it matters that Damon Davis' art will help St. Louisans remember the neighborhood that once housed the city's forgotten other major league sports stadium.
By Joe Chambers