June 15, 2020

Sports & Social opening June 17 at Ballpark Village

Sports & Social has the makings of a St. Louisan’s dream: nods to baseball greats, mini bowling lanes, ping-pong, and an extensive menu of creative cuisine and drinks. Beginning this Wednesday at 4 p.m., those looking to deviate from a traditional meal can experience the new dining destination at Ballpark Village.

The downtown addition opens in conjunction with an adjacent outdoor plaza with ample seating, located steps from Busch Stadium. The open air, picnic-style approach leaves plenty of space for live music performances from local artists on Thursdays through Sundays.

Inside, half the seating is currently off limits. There are stickers on the floor reminding guests about social distancing. Staffers remain busy sanitizing contact points like doors and handles. Any gaming devices must be checked in and out of the bar and are sanitized before and after each use. Sports & Social also uses a contactless ordering system where guests pull up a QR code to order and pay for food and drink.

While similar experiential dining concepts are popping up across the country, Mike LaMartina, chief revenue officer of Ballpark Village, notes that Sports & Social is unique to St. Louis, both in terms of the prime location and sports-themed interior and exterior details that incorporate what LaMartina calls “that STL flair.”

Then there’s the menu, which offers Tex-Mex with a twist. LaMartina points to the Southwest Nachos as a prime example: Instead of a plate of chips smothered in cheese, each tostada chip is adorned with a blend of cheeses, jalapeño, pickled onion, refried beans, guacamole, and sour cream. Pulled pork or shredded chicken can be added for an additional charge. Handheld sandwiches will also be offered, including a plant-based “beyond beef” burger option. Traditional elements of Mexican cuisine, such as street corn, are also available, but extra toppings and flavors are a constant.

Similar to the food menu, the drinks include fresh takes on traditional cocktails. Among LaMartina's personal favorites, the Blackberry Ginger Margarita combines Blanco tequila, ginger, blackberry, lemon-lime, and Fee Brothers orange bitters. “It’s going to be a summertime favorite," LaMartina predicts. "It’s light, refreshing, not your traditional margarita.”

The dining concept's initial opening will only be the beginning of its culinary explorations, as the restaurant is planning to open a meatball grab-and-go kiosk, The Original Meatball. “That’ll be something that’s very popular when it comes to game days,” LaMartina says, predicting that fans will want to quickly grab food on the way in and out of the stadium.

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