Friday, June 5, 2009

Von der Ahe's Plan

Mr. Christ. Von der Ahe's plan for a joint stock company, to be known as the St. Louis Sportsman's Association, has found such favor with the fraternity as to assure its being carried out.  Articles of incorporation will be applied for on Monday or Tuesday, and the work of improving the club grounds on Grand avenue will be proceeded with at once.  Mr. Von der Ae has secured a lease of the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park, as it was in the professional days, the strip that was cut off about three years ago having been again added thereto.  The park will, therefore, be the most commodious in the country and will be admirably adapted to athletic sports of every description.  A cricket field, dept in order throughout the season, a base ball diamond, cinder paths for "sprinters," a hand ball court, bowling alleys and everything of that sort will be laid out and constructed, comfortable accommodations for spectators will be erected, and nothing will be left undone to make the institution a model of its kind.  $2,500 will probably be spent in the work of improvement.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 20, 1881

More then ten years before he built New Sportsman's Park, Von der Ahe was already thinking of a ballpark as something more than a place to play baseball.  As he began his foray into major league baseball, Von der Ahe was thinking in terms of a multi-sport facility that could generate revenue year round and wasn't simply dependent upon a ball club.    He was a visionary businessman who was ahead of his time when it came to using a ball club and ballpark to generate ancillary revenue and he was roundly mocked and attacked for his ideas.  In an age with hotels, restaurants and bars attached to ballparks, not to mention waterfalls in centerfield and hot tubs in the bleachers, it's safe to say that Von der Ahe's vision was been accepted as a conventional business practice.  

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