ST. LOUIS -- Ballpark Village is going up right before the watchful eyes of Bill DeWitt III.
The Cardinals' president has a front-row seat to the $100 million construction project, which reached a milestone Tuesday with a formal topping-off ceremony. Coupled with weekly visits to the site, DeWitt tracks its daily progress through the window of his Busch Stadium office that overlooks it.
"There was nothing going on outside there for so long. Just to see guys working on it is a really good feeling," DeWitt said. "You can only visualize something so many times and see images and renderings. But when you see it come to life, it really starts to feel like a sense of place."
The Cardinals -- represented by Cordish Companies, DeWitt and his father, club owner Bill DeWitt Jr. -- hosted Tuesday's ceremony, sponsored by Wolverine Boots & Apparel. It featured the final 100-foot A-frame roof truss being lowered into place along the retractable skylight roof, marking the end of structural steel work and roughly the midway point of the project.
Much of the construction will move to inside the structure as it remains on schedule for Opening Day 2014. DeWitt said the hope is to have it open shortly before that first home game to do some dry runs and testing without the gameday crowds.
"I think we're on track. With a little luck, we might beat it by a bit," DeWitt said. "I think the guys have some ways of speeding it up if we have to."
Within the next few months, DeWitt said the club will announce three or four more retail and entertainment tenants to complete Phase 1, in addition to the previously announced Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum and Cardinals Nation restaurant, Anheuser-Busch brew house, PBR St. Louis country-themed bar, Ballpark Village Live! Marketplace and an outdoor gathering space laid out along the lines of Busch Stadium II's old infield.
"We're pretty much there," DeWitt said. "We're putting some finishing touches on leases, and I would anticipate we'll be pretty much 100 percent leased. … [People are] going to be amazed by what they see."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less