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World Series Provides Economic Boost to St. Louis

The ultimate games in professional baseball, the World Series, can provide an economic boost to cities that host the championship. The St. Louis Cardinals' route to this year's World Series, where they face the Texas Rangers, is helping the Missouri city get through difficult economic times.

In the city of St. Louis, Missouri, Cardinals baseball is king. The team generates money and attention for the city, and attracts a loyal fan base, including supporters like Beth Nelson.

Nelson, an account clerk at St. Louis City Hall, and her husband, also a city employee, saw a drop in their pay over the last two years, the effects of mandatory unpaid days off to help the city balance its budget.

The furloughs Saint Louis Mayor Francis Slay instituted two years ago affected all city employees, including him.
"When you have a big budget crunch, unfortunately it really does impact the employees," said Slay.

Slay was preparing for more furloughs when the Cardinals made a comeback in the final weeks of the regular season. They made the playoffs and hosted some of the post-season games, which brought more money to St. Louis from ticket and concession sales taxes.

"With one World Series game, we get - conservatively - about $500,000 in extra revenues directly into the city," noted Slay.

More people spending money in the city to watch the post-season games also helps souvenir vendors like Mike Burch.

"The regular season wasn't all that good, but for all of us down here downtown with the hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, it's really been a boost for us… much needed," said Burch.

It was also a boost for Beth Nelson and her husband. Thanks to the Cardinals post season run, Mayor Slay won't be furloughing city employees.

"Everybody that you talk to that works for the city of Saint Louis knows that its directly because of the Cardinals going on the post season is why we don't have to have furloughs this year," said Nelson.

"They are definitely saving jobs in the city of Saint Louis and they're certainly helping families under tough economic times," explained Slay.

Slay says furloughs could return if the economy does not improve, but Beth Nelson is hopeful.

"Maybe the Cardinals will go on the World Series next year, too," said Nelson.

The Cardinals reached the post season seven times since Slay assumed office in 2001. He's hoping the Cardinals make an eighth run at the title in 2012.

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    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.