St. Louis CITY SC fans are buzzing with excitement over the expansion team’s Western Conference Championship and qualification in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs. With the first match of round one scheduled for Oct. 29 at St. Louis’ CITYPARK stadium, fans are sure to enjoy a bit of game day comradery at The Pitch Athletic Club & Tavern located across the street from the stadium in historic St. Louis Union Station.
The restaurant’s $3.5 million design restoration – a nod to the City of St. Louis’ rich history – was led by St. Louis architectural firm Lawrence Group. Located at 2 S. 20th Street in Downtown St. Louis, The Pitch opened in spring 2023, just in time for the team’s home opener.
“The meticulous restoration of the restaurant incorporates a care and respect towards the history of both Union Station and St. Louis at large that Lawrence Group is proud to uphold,” said Lawrence Group Interior Designer and Senior Associate Dana Peck, NCIDQ. “This care even extends to the logo of The Pitch, which honors iconic elements of St. Louis’ cultural background, such as the 16 stripes representing the 16 counties in the metro area, or the fleur de lis paying tribute to the city’s French cultural heritage. This thoughtfulness ensures that The Pitch is not only a great place for fans of the beautiful game to congregate, but that they can enjoy a truly unique experience with each and every visit.”
The 9,000 sq. ft. space currently occupied by The Pitch was originally a portion of a large baggage claim in the station’s headhouse section. This area, added to the station in 1937, was created to meet the demand of the then-bustling rail industry. St. Louis Union Station originally opened in 1894 as the largest station in the world to have tracks and passenger service areas on one level at the time of construction. Designed by Theodore Link, the station has since been registered as a National Historic Landmark.
As consumer rail travel declined following the growth of automobile and air travel throughout the 1950s and 1960s, usage of St. Louis Union Station similarly fell. The lack of demand led to the former baggage area being converted to a restaurant space in 1985, with many tenants occupying the restaurant until the space was eventually abandoned in the 2000s.
When Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM) acquired the property in 2012, they knew they wanted to pay tribute to the history of both the station and the St. Louis region. A longstanding client of Lawrence Group, LHM approaches many of its properties with a similar deference to history as Lawrence Group does. As development plans for Union Station began to manifest throughout the 2010s, the space The Pitch now occupies awaited the right opportunity – and when St. Louis announced the construction of the city’s first MLS stadium across the street from St. Louis Union Station in 2019, the long-dormant site at last found its perfect calling.
Lawrence Group’s designers took great care to ensure that the site’s original design shone through. This included the unveiling of glazed brick and historic windows created in the site’s original 1937 construction, hidden away over the years by layers of drywall renovation. In addition, the brick’s smooth curved edges and style pay homage to the architectural style of the era. The impressive tapered column capitals from the original building can even be seen exposed in the main dining space. The years of history are most evident in the character held within the concrete flooring, adding a new dimension to the experience of the space.
Reminiscent of an English-style pub but with modern conveniences, The Pitch features cozy, living-room style couches and chairs, plaid rugs and bar stool backs, and four 100-inch flat screen TVs perfect for groups to gather and soccer fans to unite.
Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of The Pitch’s design is the repurposed millwork located in the private lounge space, itself a long-storied piece of St. Louis history. The original wood and construction of the piece dates back to at least 1889, originating from St. Louis’ famed Tony Faust’s Oyster House & Restaurant once located at the corner of Broadway and Elm streets. “We know that our projects will contribute to the continued stories of the locations and communities they are a part of. Being a good steward of our past ensures the best future possible for all who will come to know our work – and it allows us to honor the accomplishments of those who lay the foundation for where we are now,” said Peck.