Cardinals’ Ballpark Village has a curious list of things you can’t wear at its bars

The St. Louis Cardinals‘ new Ballpark Village is not only a seriously weird looking slice of entertainment-retail hell, it turns out, but the bars and restaurants there have some seriously weird dress codes. Here’s a sampling, via Deadspin:

The following is not permitted under our dress code after 9pm: sleeveless shirts on men, profanity on clothing, exposed undergarments on men, sweat pants, full sweat suits, excessively long shirts (when standing upright with arms at your side, the bottom of your shirt can not extend below the tip of your fingers), jerseys (sleeved jerseys are permitted in conjunction with a cardinals game or any other major St. Louis sporting event), athletic shorts and excessively sagging pants or shorts bandanas.

If all that sounds like code for “no black dudes,” Deadspin thinks so too, noting that Cordish Companies, the developer of Ballpark Village, also built Kansas City’s Power & Light district, and: “Two lawsuits have recently been filed alleging that Power & Light specifically discriminated against black patrons. One of the suits alleges that Power & Light employed white men who were instructed to start fights with black patrons in order to get them kicked out.”

Whether the dress code is covert racism or overt fashion policing, enjoy your tax-break-subsidized bars, St. Louis! Just not with excessively long sleeves, because That Would Be Wrong.

Share this post:

16 comments on “Cardinals’ Ballpark Village has a curious list of things you can’t wear at its bars

  1. It’s more an anti-thug policy than an anti-black policy. A friend of mine in Milwaukee has a bar and he instituted a similar policy until he was threatened with being branded a racist. (Can’t remember if it was a lawsuit or an article in the local paper.) He rescinded the dress policy and just started playing loud country music whenever thugs would come in. Admittedly 95% of who he thought were thugs were black, but it really was a cultural thing, bot a racial thing. About 10% of the regulars at my friend’s bar are black and the overall percentage usually hovers a little above that number.

  2. “The word ‘thug’ has been used so many times by the same sort of people about the same sort of thing that it’s no longer even accurate to call it code—it’s really more of a shorthand. It means a black guy who makes white folks a little more uncomfortable than they prefer.”

  3. As John Milton might have said…

    “The following is not permitted in our dress code” is but “No Darkies” writ large

  4. where Iam from there are just as many white dudes who dress like thugs. fact is trouble makers have a uniform and security needs to do their dress codes to filter them out. Also many black men dress with style and will have no problem.

  5. Not that it’s right, but it’s also not unusual for bars to select their crowds through dress codes. If they were finding ways to kick out minorities who followed the dress code, then there’d be a problem.

    I’ve worked in a bar that had a “no sandals on men,” “no non-dress hats,” and “no popped collars” policy before (to keep out frat boys). I’ve also been at a club with a goth friend of mine where the venue had a “no blue jeans” policy (to keep out perceived “normies”). In both places there were plenty of black folks, and the former bar (the one I worked in) actually had a roughly 25% black clientele.

    I also worked at a jazz & cigar bar/club in D.C. that had a 90% black clientele and yet enforced a similar dress code to the code in the article.

    Seeking out racism in every instance of culture is getting quite old.

  6. Now up to three lawsuits against Cordish in other cities for allegedly discriminating against black patrons:

    “Mulligan’s suit claims that he was asked what the ‘white to black’ ratio of the attendees would be, and when he responded that 100 percent of the people there would be black, he was told that he couldn’t host the event.”

  7. I’m very familiar with Deadspin’s BS opinion on the word “thug”. It’s a cultural thing, not a race thing. To assert otherwise is incendiary and narcissistic.

  8. Just for the record I’m not trying to judge whether the Ballpark Village developer is racist. He may be. I’m also sensitive to racially coded language (such as the language used in the past by a certain regular commenter on this site). Maybe you can tell me what word is more precise than “thug” at succinctly describing the type of people that these dress codes are trying to keep out (without being racist, of course).

  9. I suspect “thug” is exactly how they would describe who they’re trying to keep out. But only because “people who wear sports jerseys and profanity on their clothing and show their underwear” is kind of long for a code word.

    And, sure, this will keep out white people who dress hip-hop style, too. Whether that’s a feature or a bug, you’d have to ask Cordish.

  10. Agreed, but I hate the term “hip-hop” replacing “thug” in this particular context. The difference being that people wanting to look thuggish typically are trying to add an intimidation factor to hip-hop style.

  11. This reads like the basis for an article on The Onion. Are we sure it wasn’t written as a joke that wasn’t meant for public consumption?

    Assuming it wasn’t a joke and also assuming the Cards haven’t made a corporate decision to make members of Nutjob Nation their target market, then somebody should be looking for a job tomorrow. And if I’m the Cardinals’ Vice President for Making Millions on Subsidiary Activities, he/she might also want to make sure they’re wearing something bullet-resistant. Forget about whether or not you’re a racist jerk, you’re too stupid to work for me.

  12. Honestly I thought “rednecks” before “blacks”. What if the sign said “No slobs allowed”? People seem to get just as riled up when places state “no kids allowed” or “no concealed carry allowed”. It’s just bad business to discriminate against anybody because they all have money you want.
    When you slap the name “Budweiser” on it you lose all points on being a high class joint anyway.

  13. @MP34
    I thought the same thing too! The first two item: “Sleeveles shirts” (aka the “wife-beater” well known to any “Cops” aficianado) and “shirts with profanity” both say “White” to me.

    The thing about “excessively long shirts” however, is confounding to me. I have absolutely no idea what those are, or who (young, old, black, white) would wear such a thing.

  14. Regarding “exposed undergarments” or “excessively sagging” pants, that is hardly racist. Under those guidelines, Justin Beiber would not be allowed in. Many African-American nightclubs here in the DC area, explicitly state dress policy is (with some variations) “professional dress please, no athletic gear or jeans” with “professional dress” defined as, at a minimum, collared shirts, slacks with belts, and shoes. Some places demand blazers be worn.
    This is hardly new, it goes back to the infamous “velvet rope” of Studio 54. This is going to sound cold and maybe even a little fascist, but it has long been accepted that certain night time drinking establishments do have the right to form their own “culture” whatever that may be, as defined by generation, music type, class status. etc.
    At African-American clubs, proper dress is undoubtedly a way to keep out 18-25 year olds who aren’t a part of that culture. It is letting them know, “if you are not the type of person who wears these type of clothes, we don’t want you in here.”
    Given that the St Louis area has had a growing gang problem, (all races) I can understand this.
    If any restaurant starts to say, “no T-shirts featuring Martin Luther King, Malcom X, basketball players or hip-hop acts” then THAT is certainly actionable.
    The rest of the allegations though, I don’t know about — hiring guys to get into fights with black patrons??? That seems a little far-fetched, but if it can be proven, then throw the book at ’em.

  15. Will someone let me know when bars rescind their policy of letting beautiful people in without paying the cover charge but keeping me out (even if I’m willing to pay the cover)?

    Everything else (dress/style/weaponry etc) I can control if I CHOOSE to enter anyone else’s premises.

    The people who are challenging this oddball ‘code’ may well win (and they may be correct in their underlying assumption about the purpose of the code… or not).

    I would focus at least partly on the 9pm clause if it were me challenging this… what purpose does a dress curfew serve? And why is it presumably ok to arrive in this kind of clothing at 8:59 but not 9:01?

    This decision will hang on whether or not the language is deemed to be targetted at one specific group of fans/potential fans (and excluding “gang members”, for example, may not be deemed discriminatory if such a policy can be supported). Only the creators of the code know whether that’s the case or not. All I can say is that the language quoted here would apply to any number of 25 and unders (from many different backgrounds and/or cultures) in the community in which I live.

    And while we are on the subject of determining the motives of the owners of BPV, did anyone consider the motives of Deadspin in making their assumptions and publishing their story?

  16. Well said, Jason.

    We don’t know what BPV’s intent is. If it is to ban a specific subgroup regardless of their standard of behaviour, it is wrong and must/will be struck down. I must say the wording quoted here is weird… but I don’t actually see anything that “does” this.

    If it amounts to a ban specifically on that behaviour which is deemed unacceptable, though, I see no issue with it.

    I’m quite sure they had their “dress code” vetted (and probably written) by lawyers… it’s really just a matter of whether they picked good ones or not.

Comments are closed.