ST. LOUIS -- Putting a twist on the focus of Presidents' Day, cardinals.com caught up with Cardinals team president Bill DeWitt III and offered him the opportunity to address the fan base on a variety of topics. He chose to talk about four areas in particular:
• On Ballpark Village ... "Just like we did with Busch Stadium after Year 1, we want to make a number of improvements after having seen things through for the year. We're doing some site work to create a new stage on the Busch II infield area. We have a new tenant in The Fudgery on the north side of the complex. We have made upgrades to Cardinals Nation, and the Cardinals Museum has a new exhibit on Stan Musial. Ballpark Village is also going to have a very robust events calendar, and it will include a date in August when we will hold our next Cardinals Hall of Fame induction ceremony and put three or four new plaques on the wall. I think having Ballpark Village open last year really added to the gameday experience. We were able to get people down here earlier and were able to keep people in the area longer."
• On Stadium Improvements … "We're going to expand the Champions Club by making it longer on both sides. We're also doing a number of security upgrades to the ballpark. For example, we're shoring up perimeter security so there will be no gaps on the outside of the ballpark. We've increased the security camera presence inside and outside the building. And in what is pretty big news throughout baseball, fans will need to go through metal detectors this year. It's a huge additional expense by all the clubs, because we don't want people to have a slowed-down experience going in the ballpark. None of this is a response to anything locally. It's really a response to MLB's global initiative to respond to federal guidelines for these types of venues."
• On an Improved Fan Experience … "We're going to put Wi-Fi throughout the ballpark this year. It's a huge project, costing multiple millions of dollars, and we expect it to come online during the second half of the season. This, too, is an industry-wide push. Not only will it help basic cell phone coverage and social media interaction, but it should also help fans better enjoy the MLB Ballpark app. We're going to have that be our flagship platform to get people more online and linked into the data scene when they're at the ballpark. Use of that app can range from real-time news to notifications of seat upgrades to concession ordering to stats packages to video replays.
• On a Continued Commitment to On-Field Excellence … "I do feel really good about our team. If you want to be critical, you might see people point to the fact that the reinforcements that we've enjoyed from Triple-A may not be there like they have in immediate years past. But I think the club we're going to put out there on Opening Day is going to be as good as any club we've put out on Opening Day in the last several years. Our division is coming after us; we know that. But there is a flip side to that -- this Central Division race could really be exciting for fans. The Cubs rivalry, I feel like, is going to have renewed energy this year, in particular."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.