On Tuesday, June 6, Forest Park Forever and City of St. Louis staff were joined by campaign supports, Park users and members of the local media to celebrate the start of a major Park improvement project. The renovation of Forest Park's Central Fields is one of the largest Forever campaign projects and will completely transform this popular 30-acre area. Home to LouFest and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, the site also hosts countless sport leagues and other community events.

As its name suggests, Central Fields is centrally located – it sits between the Muny, the Highlands and Jefferson Lake. The area also provides great views of the Central West End skyline, making it an attractive location for large community events. It is heavily used and extremely large (about the size of 23 football fields!), making this improvement project all the more necessary. The upgrades Central Fields will undergo over the next year or so will make it more functional for all the activities that take place there and easier to maintain moving forward.

This $5.8 million project has been funded primarily by private donations to the Forever campaign, including a lead gift from Emerson

“As a global company anchored in the St. Louis region for more than 125 years, Emerson is proud to support Forest Park Forever with this gift to the Forever campaign,” said David Rabe, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Emerson. “Forest Park has become one of the truly great parks in the country and a vital part of our region’s quality of life. The campaign’s improvements, including a transformed Central Fields, will greatly enhance the visitor experience for many years to come.”

June's groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks from Director of Parks, Recreation & Forestry for the City of St. Louis Greg Hayes; Board of Public Service President Rich Bradley; Forest Park Forever President & Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth P.E.; Forest Park Forever Board of Directors member Larry Thomas; and Emerson Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility David Rabe. Following the remarks, there was a special ribbon-cutting that welcomed representatives from groups that use this popular space, including the Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Race, LouFest, PeaceFest, the St. Louis Ramblers Rugby crew and soccer players from nearby St. Roch School. 

Thanks to the leadership of our Forever campaign donors, Park visitors will have a lot to look forward to after the Central Fields renovations are complete, including:

  • Four top-quality soccer fields & three full-sized rugby fields

  • Two new restroom facilities, a pavilion and a concession stand

  • Re-grading and soil improvements for better drainage

  • New trails, which will now connect Central Fields to Steinberg Rink and the Jewel Box

  • Street improvements and better pedestrian access

  • New bike racks that can house up to 36 bikes

  • New trees and attractive new landscaping

A full press release about this exciting Forever campaign project can be found here.