The St. Louis Blues won the team’s first Stanley Cup a few months ago. Since then, business owners and city officials have been working behind the scenes to bring the hockey trophy to Springfield. They succeeded, and the big day is Oct. 10.
It all started when Springfield attorney Joseph Passanise, managing partner with the Law Offices of Dee Wampler and Joseph Passanise PC, reached out to Steve Chapman, vice president of the St. Louis Blues. He asked if the Cup could make a stop in Springfield as it travels to visit the Tulsa Oilers and San Antonio Rampage, both minor league affiliates of the Blues.
“What a lifetime opportunity that is,” Passanise said. “When the Blues responded, I reached out to the mayor, some corporate sponsors, and everyone was so excited. This is one of those projects that’s a labor of love.”
Passanise said he assembled a planning group of seven people, which has now expanded to over 30. Wil Fischer Distributing Co., Falstaff’s LLC, the city of Springfield and Missouri State University officials are just a few involved in the group, which has been meeting weekly for over a month.
The Blues organization requested the group involve Bass Pro Shops, the local universities, law enforcement and first responders in the event, Passanise said. Another request was to take the Cup to a sports bar, where Fox Sports Midwest could livestream the St. Louis Blues game versus the Ottawa Senators that night.
Falstaff’s downtown was the obvious choice, Passanise said.
Owner Scott Morris has been showing St. Louis Blues hockey games for the past 28 years – first at Billiards of Springfield and now at Falstaff’s, which has become known as Springfield’s hockey bar. Morris said the team at beer distributor Wil Fischer reached out to him, and after holding a vote of its staff, unanimously chose Falstaff’s as the sports bar to display the Cup.
Morris said Falstaff’s will be open and operating, but he likely won’t serve food based on the number of people expected.
“We’re going to try to run a couple thousand people through so that people can take pictures with the Cup,” Morris said. “I hired two police officers to sit at each of my doors to regulate the crowd side.”
Morris said he’ll only be serving Bud Light that night. It’s one of the NHL’s beverage sponsors.
“We just thought that would be a good thing to do since they’re bringing the Cup to our bar,” Morris said.
The celebration is slated to begin at 3 p.m. Oct. 10 with a Cup viewing at Bass Pro Shops, and it’ll move at 7:30 p.m. to Falstaff’s, 311 Park Central West. Morris, who’s on the organizing committee, said the Cup also will appear at Harbell’s Grill and Sports Bar LLC two doors down for a private viewing.
For the rest of the evening, the Cup will be displayed on an outdoor stage in the parking lot across the street from Falstaff’s and Harbell’s. A street party is expected to take place 6-11 p.m. The Cup is a traveling trophy awarded to the NHL champion for one year and is then passed to the next winner.
Cora Scott, director of public information and civic engagement for the city of Springfield, has been busy working on event permitting and coordination.
“I thought this was one of the greatest things I’d ever heard,” she said. “Springfieldians would absolutely love coming downtown, celebrating the Blues, and this was a great opportunity to do something fun.”
Scott said the group is expecting a crowd size of 5,000-8,000 people downtown. The city is only closing off Park Central West for the event, she said, and the rest of the square will remain open. She said the event required a special event permit, road closure permit, and liquor license and permit.
What’s the cost for such a party?
Passanise said the group has a goal to raise $25,000 to offset the cost of the community celebration, which includes the off-duty law enforcement, a stage and port-a-potties. With the help of corporate sponsors, such as Loren Cook Co. and Great Southern Bank, he said the group has raised $20,000. Sponsors have been donating $2,500 or through in-kind donations, Passanise said.
Mike Morton, vice president of sales at Wil Fischer, said his part in the planning process was finding a way to celebrate downtown with the young adult demographic.
Along with Morris, Morton said the company is working to create a 21-and-older party on Park Central West and in the parking lot across from Falstaff’s. The company has contributed $2,500 to the celebration in financial and in-kind donations, Passasnise said. That includes the cost for the stage, where the Cup will be displayed 9:30-11 p.m, Morton said.
Morris said the Sertoma Club of Springfield will be selling tickets for beer and food, though the cost of tickets has not been finalized. He said 10% of all ticket sales will go to the Hockey Foundry, a nonprofit that raises money for hockey-related charities.
One of the founders of the Hockey Foundry, Jaime Jay, said he’s worked with the Blues Alumni to bring some old Blues faces to the event. Jay said former St. Louis players Bobby Plager, Cam Janssen and Tom Tilley will be making their way down to the Queen City.
Loren Cook II, senior vice president of Loren Cook Co., said he’d tried in his own efforts to bring the Cup to Springfield by contacting the Blues Chairman Tom Stillman. Cook said Passanise was reaching out to the organization at the same time and was able to put the wheels in motion. The company is now a sponsor of the event and has donated $2,500, he said.
“We’re just a small token of a sponsor trying to help out with many other great sponsors to give back to the community,” Cook said.
Among the corporate sponsors for the event are O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC, Jared Outdoor LLC, Epic Strategies and Rally House sports store, according to a city news release.
“All of the people that are around the table bring something to it, and as the event is publicized and growing, we’re bringing new ideas to make this a great event,” Passanise said.
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