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When a team with over 120 years of tradition builds a new ballpark, fans take notice with concern and hope. The concern applies to how the franchise will connect the past with the present along with planning for the future and the hope is that it will be done in such a way to appeal to fans across multiple generations from all corners of baseball fandom, in this case Cardinal Nation.
In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals began play in their fifth stadium and the transition blended the past with the present with an eye toward the future. The club kicked off the new ballpark in style, winning the World Series against the Detroit Tigers that year. While the franchise has continued their competitive play since then, ownership understands the importance of keeping the entertainment experience fresh and rewarding.
The club continues to make minor tweaks along the way with one major tweak set over the next few years. The minor tweaks are detailed in this updated review. The major tweak is the groundbreaking of Ballpark Village, a retail, entertainment and dining enterprise just beyond the right field and center field areas of the ballpark perimeter which will make the area more of a destination than it already is on game day.
Some owners believe the only way to keep fans happy is by winning and that is in fact true. But Cardinals fans tend to demand more than just success on the field which speaks to why the team has enjoyed widespread support and over 3,000,000 annual fans through the gate each season but one over the last fifteen years.
Fans of the Redbirds appreciate and support these winning teams, but they demand an all-around experience when attending games. It is not enough to cheer a winning team; you have to live it from earlier in the day until well after the game has ended. Supporting the Cardinals is a lifestyle, on par with what fans of the Green Bay Packers, Boston Red Sox and Montreal Canadiens enjoy and demand.
Therefore, the game experience must be well-planned with efforts fulfilling the wishes of customers. The club has done a magnificent job of hitting all the important parts and then some, and the steep tradition built over time serves as the foundation for sustained enjoyment. This updated review of the stadium experience at Busch Stadium touches on the rich legacy, proud past, and the ways in which you can enjoy your next visit to one of major league baseball’s finest venues and have it be a lasting impression.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
One important thing to know is that you can bring food and drink into Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have always wanted to make attending games affordable with more than just attractive ticket offers (more on this later). You can bring soft-sided coolers that measure no greater than 16 x 16 x 8. You cannot bring in any alcohol, cans or glass and your plastic bottles must be unopened when you enter. A good idea would be to bring water, especially for those hot and humid St. Louis summer days and nights, bagged peanuts, Cracker Jacks and maybe candy if you wanted. This will save you quite a bit of money once you get inside.
As for the items commonly found at MLB baseball stadiums for comparison sake, a 16 oz. bottle of beer is $8.25, a jumbo hot dog basket which includes chips and a soda is $9, a 20 oz. bottled soda is $5.50, bottled water is $5.25, and a bag of peanuts is $4.75.
Behind home plate in the main concourse, there is a popcorn station that offers a bottomless bucket for $14. You can mix and match flavors that include regular buttered, cheese, and caramel. Get a single serving for just $5.
Busch Stadium offers an array beverage options. Souvenir cup fountain soda is $6.50, a specialty beer pint is $7.50, a regular sized soda is $5.50, 12oz. draft beer cup is $9 and a bottle of O'Doul's is $4.75.
For those who want to sample different kinds of beer, there is much to try. Also, consider that since Anheuser-Busch was purchased by InBev, that Schlafly is the largest locally-owned brewery now. Try at least one of these as they are very popular in the Gateway City now.
Craft beer is all over Busch Stadium. Urban Chestnut, Zwickel, Winged Nut, Honker's Ale, Goose Island, Leinenkugel and O'Fallon Wheach are just a few.
For eats, you can choose from a variety of snacks where popcorn is $4, Cracker Jacks $4, a bag of potato chips is $2.25, nachos are $6.50, a pretzel with cheese is $6.25, Switzer's cherry licorice for $3.75 and a Cardinals ice cream bar is $3.75.
Other entrée items include chicken tender basket for $13.75 or the jumbo dog basket for $11. A jumbo bratwurst basket is $13.75 and a hamburger basket is $10.75. Add another patty or cheese and burger baskets are a few extra dollars. All baskets include chips. Add an order of regular, cheese, garlic or seasoned French fries for $6.25.
There is a station behind the third base dugout side in the main concourse where you can build your own hot for $11. There are some pre-determined combos you can order from such as the St. Louis hot dog which includes red hot riplets, provel cheese and barbeque sauce. Another is the signature hot dog covered with baked beans corn chips and mustard. Still, you can choose among fourteen different items to add to your hot dog. Great stuff!
Also in the hot dog category, consider the pretzel dog for $6 which you can find in the main concourse along the third base side of the stadium. You can also get Bavarian pretzel sticks with cheese for $7.
Consider BBQ as an option as there are excellent options to select. The brisket basket is $14 and the pulled pork basket is $13.25. All basket combos include chips.
Three slider baskets are available and you can choose from braised beef, chipotle chicken or barbeque pulled pork. For $14, you can mix and match up to two sliders and add fries with this basket.
A tasty option with a little more pizzaz is the St. Louis bacon-wrapped hot dog for just $9. You can find these in the main concourse behind the first base dugout.
For those with a healthy conscience, consider either the veggie burger or veggie chicken basket, both at $12.50. Chef salads are $6.75 and fruit cups are $8.25.
Sadly, two popular tastes unique to St. Louis, toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake, cannot be found at the stadium. You can and should get them while in town. See the neighborhood section for some excellent suggestions.
In keeping things fresh, Busch Stadium features a few new food offerings. One piece of advice here; arrive with an empty stomach and a full wallet.
Kohn's Kosher Deli is new for the 2013 season and gives the type of offerings from Katz's Deli in New York a run for its money. Located at section 147, this joint venture between Stuart Rosenbloom and Lenny Kohn from the local Kohn's Deli has struck a winning combination. Choices include generous servings of pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye bread, both $12.75 each, a kosher jumbo frank for $7.50, and potato or meat knishes for $3.50.
Make sure you savor the pickle with your sandwich order, too. Maybe they'll even give you a few extra. Please note Kohn's Deli changes names to Coney Island Deli on Friday and Saturday games, with the intent to respect the Jewish traditions of the Sabbath.
Stir-fry is another new option on the menu at Busch. It can be found at Gate 1 and is as good as the famed offerings at Safeco Field even if there is not quite the show by the chef as there is in Seattle. Still, the stir-fry offerings are very tasty and worthwhile. Try either the beef or chicken varieties for just $12.75. If you want shrimp, add $3.
For burgers and fries, you have never seen anything like they have at the new Double Play Tap & Grill, located down the right field line at Section 135 on the main concourse. Brace yourself for the good stuff they have this year.
First, two burger choices include a stuffed smoked cheddar Bavarian burger. The intent was to serve on a Companion pretzel roll, but the bun did not stay together so it is a regular bun. This is similar to the Minnesota-founded cheeseburger known as Juicy Lucy (at the 5-8 Club) or Jucy Lucy (at Matt's Bar). But wait, there is more. Also at the Double Play Tap & Grill, you can order the macaroni and cheese stuffed burger, too. Each is $14.
If something other than burgers is on your mind and stomach, consider the "Four-Hand nacho platter ($12) with taco beef, carnitas chicken or pulled pork. Nothing says doorstop like this item, a tasty entrée which should be shared with others and not consumed by one person. Add Ultimate Nacho Fries ($12) is an option, too. Just substitute thick waffle fries for nachos.
One last unique item to try is the fried pickle spears at sections 271 and 509.
Make sure you check out the photo gallery which includes many of these fantastic food items.
As you might expect for a team that has been around 120 years, there are generations of fans who have watched and contributed to Cardinals baseball. My grandmother spoke about Jim Bottomley and the Dean Brothers coming over to the house when they lived down the street from Sportsman's Park.
You will find groups of veteran fans who congregate to compare current players with the players from the 1940s, debate how Whitey Herzog would have managed the current club, boast of how many consecutive games they have attended and how they saw the team play in 1945.
First things first! If you attend a Cardinals game and do not have an allegiance to the visiting team WEAR RED! You will be impressed with the sea of red while you participate with a near full house on most nights. In fact, even if you do have an allegiance to the visiting team, transform yourself into a Cardinals fan for the game, slip into some red and cheer with the home crowd. After all, it's just a game and an experience you will miss if you don't.
As you consider where you should sit, here are a few things to know. Unlike Busch Stadium II, the current stadium has a home plate that is in the southwest corner of the playing area. The batter looks to the northeast to view the pitch coming from the mound. The right field line follows from home plate due East. The left field line follows from home plate due North. This is important as you consider sun exposure for day games and having the sun in your eyes or not for games regardless of the start time. I hate watching a game where it is uncomfortable for those reasons.
Field dimensions are 336 down the left field line, 375 in left center, 400 in straightaway center, 375 in right center and 335 down the right field line. Although there is some area in the infield foul territory, the space narrows as the seating area travels from first and third base to the foul poles getting as close as three feet when it hits the outfield wall.
For afternoon games that start between 12pm and 3pm, the sun comes up behind the right field wall, but just a bit south of the structure. What this means is if you want to stay out of the sun and most of the heat during the St. Louis summer, consider a ticket in the rear rows of the levels along the first base side. Avoid the third base side for these early start times.
In most sections, the rear-most ten rows in each section are covered by a section or in the case of the top level, an awning. For many games, you can get a ticket in the upper level near the foul pole in right field for just $5.
For evening games, the sun falls behind the third base side of the stadium and your best bet there is for a seat along this side. Avoid seats in the right field area because you will get sun and heat for half the game.
Seats in center field are nice, but you are going to feel like an egg on a sidewalk in 100 degree weather, which is similar to what you experience in the hot, humid St. Louis summer months. This is true of games which start at any time.
In terms of best value in pricing, consider the Cardinals practice tiered pricing in desiring higher prices to meet higher demand for the home team's most treasured rivals such as the Cubs, Yankees and Red Sox, the latter two strictly for interleague play. There really is never any reason to pay full-price for a ticket at a Cardinals game.
Check the website for promotions, but one common special includes AAA discounts of half-off select seats with your membership card for most games Monday through Saturday. Also, if you want to buy online, but avoid ticketing fees, consider the option of picking up your tickets at one of the self-serve kiosks spread throughout the perimeter of the ballpark.
If forced to put my finger on where to sit for an afternoon game, I would tell you sections in the Infield Pavilion level in sections between 344 through 348 offer a view from behind home plate and home dugout along with a magnificent view of the arch with shade from the sun. Tickets here are usually about $30 for the lower priced teams.
For an evening game, I would tell you sections in the Infield Pavilion level in sections between 352 through 357 offer a view from behind home plate and the visiting dugout with a magnificent view of the arch with shade from the sun. Tickets here are also about $30 for the lower priced teams.
Consider a few things as you enter the stadium. One of the traditional elements of attending a game is the opportunity to purchase a program and score the game. It remains an inexpensive way to document the experience and have a keepsake from the game at hand. With some teams, these traditions are slowly fading, but not in St. Louis.
Make it a priority to purchase a game program with card stock scorecard insert for just $5. But when you do buy one, though, make sure you get it from Joe Palermo, a fixture at the ballpark for the last 48 years. You will always find him just inside the third base side gate where the Stan Musial statue stands.
I have been buying programs from Joe at games for nearly forty years. Like the other stadium employees you will find him friendly and conversational. But as it relates to baseball and Cardinal history, he is a walking encyclopedia. Make sure you view his daily trivia question, too, printed just to the left of the stand as you approach for a buy. On the day of conducting this update to my original review, the question was::
"Four men share the Cardinals single-season record for most stolen bases by a dedicated catcher (9). They are T. McCarver, T. Pagnozzi and Y. Molina. Who was the 4th catcher?"
The answer is at the end of this review.
By the way, Joe sells the 2013 Stan Musial Commemorative Game Day program for $10 (they are running low as the season draws near) and media guides for $25 each (short printed and in less-demand than they used to be). The Cardinals Yearbook is scheduled to be out at end of August 2013.
Keep in mind, too, if you are visiting the stadium from out of town and want more of the game programs as they change during the season, you can subscribe to Cardinals Magazine and have it mailed to you just about every month. The program is one of the best in the majors in terms of content, historical information and photography.
In the picture department, Scott Rovak, a baseball Hall of Fame award-winning shooter, provides some of the best images in the game. He rarely ever misses a game from one of the photographer wells in the outfield side of one of the dugouts.
As you first walk into the stadium, one of the first things you might notice here is unlike all of the new stadiums of the last twenty years, almost all the main concourse is closed off from viewing the game live while fans stroll to get food, visit a restroom or shop for merchandise. Although I have been unsuccessful in confirming this, it seems it might have been designed this way to minimize costs. Messages left for the architect, Kansas City-based Populous, to learn why have gone unanswered.
Because of this one element, the venue lacks the inclusive feel you experience in almost every other ballpark no matter where you are once inside the structure. Get into the seating area or in left center field where the concourse opens up and you are in the atmosphere. It's a shame because in having visited every other major league ballpark, there is such an exciting element to being able to walk the concourse around the entire field and never miss a play. It might be the most disappointing quality of Busch Stadium.
In essence the upper levels provide you access to the outside when you are walking the upper level concourse. The walkways are wide and breezy and exposed to open air and light unlike the main concourse.
Restrooms, food choices and merchandise are plentiful on all levels, but if you want some of the specialty items mentioned above, get those on the main level before heading to your seat in the upper levels.
Access to the upper levels can be gained through ramps, steps, elevators and escalators. The ramps take a while to get to the upper levels and the steps are not too much of a pleasure either. Find an escalator, the quickest one seems to be along the third base side. Elevators are tucked way near the stairwells so while they are there, you really have to look for them.
In terms of team pageantry, there are thirteen retired numbers or symbols in two places, along the left-field padded wall starting near the foul pole and on the lower edge of the center field scoreboard.
Rogers Hornsby is referenced with an old-fashioned STL logo as players did not wear numbers on their jerseys during his era. The #85 Busch honors August Busch, Jr. the longtime owner who controlled the team. When the team retired his number in 1984, Mr. Busch was 85 years old, hence the reason for the #85 as his retired number. The microphone on the far right honors long-time broadcaster Jack Buck who died in 2002.
The World Series pennants in right center high atop the scoreboard commemorate the 11 titles the Cardinals have captured, second most in the major leagues.
The view to center field reveals the majestic Gateway Arch and the Millennium Hotel St. Louis at 200 South 4th Street which offers a spectacular view and elegant dining from its revolving restaurant on the top floor.
Kids and really fans of all ages enjoy Fredbird, the Cardinals mascot. Introduced in 1979 by the late Cardinals Marketing Executive Marty Hendin, Fredbird has reached the level of popularity close to the Phillie Phanatic. You will see him involved in between innings events and through his visits to the US Cellular Family Pavilion.
Oh, one last thing. WEAR RED! You will be glad you did!
Busch Stadium lies in a downtown about a half mile east of the Gateway Arch. At one time, the downtown area was a bustling place, but typically, after work lets out, downtown clears out unless there is a Cardinals game. In being one of the most happening areas of the city, there are about a dozen restaurants within walking distance of the stadium.
Restaurants near the stadium include J. Bucks at 1000 Clark Avenue, just two blocks west of the northwest corner of the stadium complex. The restaurant is named for the former Cardinals broadcaster who is often seen around the stadium when he is not somewhere broadcasting Fox Sports coverage of major league baseball.
Another good spot is Mike Shannon's Restaurant, named after the former St. Louisan who played for the Cardinals in the 60s and is one of their current broadcasters. It is just beyond right field and a block north of the ballpark at 620 Market Street and has a diverse offering designed to attract the younger bar crowd outside with a finer dining atmosphere inside. Mike often visits the restaurant after the game to meet fans and enjoy a home team win.
Charlie Gitto's Downtown, located four short blocks north at 207 North 6th Street, just north of Pine Street caters to a casual Italian crowd. The owner has been friends with Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda for decades and has a plaque posted at the favorite table of the former Dodgers manager. The restaurant is packed full of signed photos of famous visitors, some during their visit to this popular eatery.
Anyone visiting St. Louis would be well-served in finding barbeque in the Gateway City. Keep in mind, though, St. Louis style BBQ is different than what you might be used to. In this city, you will find a heavily sauced morsel on your plate and in flavor is described as a very sweet, slightly acidic, sticky, tomato-based barbecue sauce.
If you have made the commitment to barbeque in St. Louis, look no further than Pappy's, a little more than two miles west of Busch Stadium at 3106 Olive Street Road. It is a little tough to find so visit their website to see the little niche they carved into this unique location.
A few tips include getting there right when they open or off-peak. The line can be long and dissuade people, but be assured, it is worth every minute you wait in line to taste the famous ribs and pulled pork. Consider the fried corn on the cob and sweet potato fries as sides and wash it all down with their sweet tea. One important note: be advised you stand in line, often a long line, order your food, stand at the counter to wait for it and only then will you be directed to a table to begin eating. The location is relatively small, but don't be concerned as their system works and once you find a home at one of these tables, you will quickly learn how worth the wait is as you consume their award-winning barbeque.
Also while in St. Louis, find time to visit The Hill neighborhood, a community steeped in rich Italian tradition just ten minutes southwest of the stadium. The neighborhood's north edge is along Highway 44. The east edge is along Kings Highway while the west edge is along Hampton. The south edge is along Southwest Avenue.
Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra grew up there. In fact, many of Yogi's relatives still reside here in small, yet quaint middle class homes. The area is home to some of the best Italian restaurants in the area, some just large enough for a dozen tables. St. Louis Bocce Club is also here.
For light fare and casual dining, pick Zia's at 5257 Wilson Avenue, phone . You can get toasted ravioli there and tasty pizza with a thin, cracker crust, a St. Louis original. For a wide variety of pastas and "fishbowl" beers, try Rigazzi's at 4945 Daggett.
For a more elegant experience, try Lorenzo's at 1933 Edwards, right where Edwards and Daggett intersect. Try their fish specials and if you want something you do not see on the menu, ask them if they can make it for you. They typically can.
Another elegant Hill restaurant is Giovanni's on the Hill at 5201 Shaw, right at Marconi.
Also, whatever you do, do not leave the area without having a cannoli for dessert.
If you like Frozen Custard, you cannot go wrong with Ted Drewes, operating since 1929 and along Historic Route 66 since 1941. This location, one of two in the area, is just nine miles southwest of Busch Stadium at 6726 Chippewa.
The famed custard stand swells after a baseball game, but don't be concerned as the staff really moves the crowd through the line. Anything you order here is great, but you must try the concrete, an extra thick version of what most consider a shake. When your order for this item is ready, ask the person serving you to test it. That's when they will turn it upside down and nothing falls out, mmmmmm, good!
For those without tickets to get inside Busch Stadium, consider 360, a glass-walled venue beyond left field at the top of the Hilton Ballpark. It is a nice concept to enjoy the game from this restaurant for drinks and dinner and get a great view of the game.
There may not be any better fans in baseball than Cardinals fans. No offense to fans of the Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs, but in what other ballparks can you often see applause for a visiting players for a great play or hitting a milestone.
Fans in St. Louis do not need to be prompted by a scoreboard to know, for instance, Jeff Bagwell's last career plate appearance in St. Louis was about to take place. They stood for several minutes before he saw the first pitch. Magical is the best way to describe the atmosphere as provided by Cardinal Nation.
If you are coming to see your favorite team play the Cardinals, be comfortable wearing your team's colors, strike up a conversation with a Cardinals fan, talk history, debate best players at each position and in the end, know you will enjoy healthy baseball conversations with them.
There are several options for getting to and from the game and it all depends on price and convenience. Parking is ample throughout downtown, either in stadium parking garages, small as well as large surface lots or meter parking. Parking garages near the stadium are $20. There are two large, seven-level parking lots a block north of the stadium, one to the East, the other to the West.
Parking lots of various sizes can be found south and west of the stadium. The further you go away from the park, the less you pay, but you can get a pretty good spot for $10 and only have to walk just a quarter to a half mile. In fact, you might end up parking where you will end up after the game for drinks and food. Consider this when you plan your day at the game.
If you want to drive to the game, but desire a cheaper option, there is one; a metered parking spot near the ballpark. Although you will need to be conscious of the one-way streets that surround the stadium, it is worth it. Here is what I recommend if you choose this option.
After 7pm, the meters are free Monday through Saturday (this changed to require Saturday payments in June 2013). They are FREE on Sunday. On weekdays, because you can park for a maximum of two hours at a time during chargeable meter time, find a spot around 5pm, load coins (quarters preferred) in the amount of $2 (at a rate of $0.25 per fifteen minutes) and your parking ends up being pretty cheap.
I prefer using MetroLink, the St. Louis area's light rail system, just to not have to deal with the traffic hassle and gas. The trains are neat, clean and safe. There is a station right at the stadium on the West side across from the famed Stan Musial statue. Fittingly enough, it is known as the "Stadium" stop.
The train lines run from the Western suburbs toward downtown most of the way, but it does stretch across the Mississippi River to Illinois where there are 11 stops.
One train begins in the Northwest part of St. Louis County at the Airport station (where there are actually two stops, one for each terminal) and heads east to the Shiloh-Scott Air Force Base station. This is considered the RED line.
The other train begins in the Southwest part of St. Louis County at the Shrewsbury station and heads east to the Fairview Heights, Illinois station, five stops short of the Shiloh-Scott Air Force Base station. This is considered the BLUE line.
From either of the furthest West stations on either the RED or BLUE line, it takes about thirty minutes to get to the ballpark. The southernmost trip has a little more scenery than the northernmost trip.
There is one important tip you should know for after the game even though there is a stop right at the stadium. If you leave at about the same time as most of the crowd AND you are heading west on either the blue or red line, walk about three blocks North to the corner of 8th and Pine. There you will walk down the steps to the platform and should have no trouble getting on the train OR having to wait in line.
The next stop West (which is actually south because the tracks snake around to run North/South through downtown) is the Stadium stop. You will be in a seat or at least on the train with no hassle getting on while you see everybody else waiting in a long line at the Stadium stop struggling to get on quickly, find a seat, etc.
Cost is $2.25 one-way or $4.50 round trip. Reduced fares of $1.10 are offered to seniors 65+, customers with disabilities, customers who possess a valid Medicare ID, and children aged 5 through 12. The system operates on a pseudo-honor system. Buy your ticket at the automated kiosk, validate the ticket when you get ready to use it, travel within two hours of validation and board the train. Security randomly checks tickets and issues citations on the spot so be careful.
In making a commitment to keep Cardinals baseball affordable, ticket prices are as low as $5 on many nights. Programs are just $5 and are a good value with great articles and colorful photo essays. Each program includes a scorecard. Add a pencil for $1.
Food is fairly priced with the opportunity for you to get more or better quality food for a little more. Consider, though, the Cardinals allow you to bring food to the game provided you follow their rules. It is common and a good idea to bring your own bottled water or bottled soda (unopened when you enter the game), peanuts and cracker jacks. For instance, it might cost you as little as $1 for bottled water you bring as opposed to $5.25 on the inside. I suggest bringing the necessities to the game and spend money inside on a tasty bratwurst or bagel dog.
Merchandise is fairly priced as well. T-shirts are offered as low as $15 and souvenir baseballs at $6.
Parking is average with some cheap metered options, but you cannot beat the light rail price of $2.25 and no hassle with traffic and parking.
RADIO BROADCASTS - Many fans listen to the live games they attend through KMOX 1120 AM, a fixture for Cardinals baseball for decades despite the five-year interruption late in the last decade. John Rooney and former Cardinals catcher Mike Shannon call an entertaining game.
Unlike most stadiums, there is not a team Hall of Fame at Busch Stadium III. At Busch Stadium II, there was an expansive museum devoted largely to baseball, but including all St. Louis sports for decades. Fans did not need a game ticket to enter and could visit just about every day of the week. It was one of the finest in baseball.
The team moved across the street, northwest of the stadium for a while and shared the triangular shaped two-story building with the Bowling Hall of Fame before it relocated to Houston. Currently, there isn't much to see at the stadium to include trophies, photos or team films.
BALLPARK TOURS - A tour of Busch Stadium is a must if you can fit it into your schedule. Lasting one hour and beginning at Gate 3, your trip includes a visit to the Redbird Club, press box/suite level, Cardinals' Club, Cardinals' dugout and other unique areas in the ballpark. On game day, you will probably come across some players arriving and taking some swings in the batting case.
Four tours are given each day during the regular season (9:30am, 11am, 12:30pm, and 2pm) are conducted except during days of afternoon games and two tours in the off-season (11am and 12:30pm). Check the schedule for restricted dates and on holidays.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+) and military with ID and $6 for Children (15 and under). Children 3 or under are free, limit 3 per family or group. Groups of 25 or more people have the opportunity to book their own tour. This must be scheduled at least 14 days in advance and require payment in full at time of booking.
BUILD-A-BEAR WORKSHOP LOCATION - The national chain of children's toy bear stores is represented at the ballpark, the only such in-stadium location in the country after Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia closed their version in 2012. The St. Louis-based retailer is a natural fit for the Cardinals and includes a number of exclusives only found inside the stadium on game day.
Fans have an opportunity to purchase a stuffed Fredbird (the Cardinals mascot) for $24, Clydesdale (iconic brewery symbol) for $24, Cooperstown Dugout Bear for $20 and Tie-Dye Monkey for $18. You can buy accessories such as bear catching gear for $15 and assorted equipment and visiting team jerseys as well.
MERCHANDISE AND GAME AUTHENTICS - The array of merchandise is incredible and there are many different ways to take home a piece of Busch Stadium and the game experience. The most popular items are the red foam finger for $10, the mini bat for $8, a low-price point red Cardinals cap for $10 and a souvenir ball for $8. But there are multiple varieties of just about everything with ascending price points.
Cardinals Authentics Official and Game Used Collectibles can be found just inside and to the right of Gate 6. Even if you are not into game used stuff, at least take a walk through the huge store. You can get used batting helmets, game-used balls, and just about anything else you could want. Keep in mind though, this is a store with one-of-a-kind items and unique collectibles.
The huge team store is located just inside Gate 3 (you know, where my buddy Joe Palermo sells programs) and to the left. The store is unique not just from the standpoint that everything Cardinals to purchase is inside, but it represents just about the only publicly open place to view authentic vintage Cardinals memorabilia.
TEAM HALL OF FAME COMING IN 2014 WITH BALLPARK VILLAGE - You see, unlike many teams, the Cardinals do not currently have a team Hall of Fame to showcase their 120-year history. This will eventually change once Phase One of the Ballpark Village project is completed by Opening Day 2014.
The 8,000 square foot Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum will be part of a three-story building which includes Cardinals Nation restaurant and a rooftop deck with enough space to host 300 fans and provide them with a spectacular view of the game from the complex, similar to how Wrigley Field has seats outside the iconic stadium.
Until then, you will have to visit the main team store to see some great old photos and artifacts including Stan Musial's harmonica and a 1940s jersey. While in the store, the best way to determine which items are which is by looking for a price tag (in this case, no price tag equals not for sale) or a glass case (designed to prevent touching and deterioration of the materials or signatures). It's a good way to see some neat items, especially since the 2013 campaign celebrates the life of Stan Musial, perhaps the greatest Cardinal ever after his passing in the 2012 off-season.
FOR THE KIDS - For the little ones, there is the US Cellular Family Pavilion which offer lots of fun games for a small fee such as t-ball and batting cages to test your swing, speed gun to see how fast you can throw and a soft playground area under cover with places for parents to sit and watch the game while their children climb and crawl. Team mascot Fredbird makes frequent appearance in this area.
ANSWER TO INSIDE GATE 3 PROGRAM VENDOR JOE PALERMO'S TRIVIA QUESTION FROM EARLIER: Eli Marerro in 1999.
The St. Louis Cardinals rival the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs as the most popular teams over the last century of baseball.
And for the greater part of their history, the Cardinals called "Busch Stadium" home. However, there have actually been three Busch Stadiums, with the current one opening in 2006.
Incidentally, the Cardinals joined the Yankees as the only team to win the World Series during the first year in a new stadium.
The ballpark is chock full of historic quirks and facets. The centerfield gate (Gate 5) is actually centerfield of the second Busch Stadium. Painted lines mark the locations of the old foul lines and outfield wall. The new stadium was basically fully completed in 2005, but the team had to wait for the end of the season to complete it since the ballparks overlapped.
Gate 3 is a tremendous sight for any true baseball fan. Though Albert Pujols is the talk of the town these days in St. Louis, Stan Musial remains the most revered Cardinal of all time. A brass statue of "Stan the Man" sits outside the stadium under Musial Bridge - modeled after the historic Eads Bridge that was the first bridge to cross the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
Though the Anheuser Busch, Co. no longer owns the Cardinals, the company provided enough money to keep the naming rights to the stadium. It's hard to imagine the Cardinals playing anywhere but some version of a Busch Stadium.
As the public address announcer says before every home game, "Welcome to Baseball Heaven." Busch Stadium is truly a baseball heaven for the scores of fans that visit each year.
Like most Major League stadiums that have been constructed in this decade, the newest incarnation of St. Louis's Busch Stadium is designed to invoke nostalgia for baseball's rich past. To me, this is a cynical attempt by team owners and league officials to make fans forget about steroids, multi-million dollar contract negotiations, and other distractions that plague appreciation for the modern game. Of course, the players that fans pay to watch in these monuments to the sports' glory days are often less than honorable. It should also be noted that this new crop of old fashioned stadiums cost a lot more to build than the old parks did, and are generally funded by questionable corporate partnerships and corrupt tax scams.
Still, for any fan willing to ignore all of this, it must be said that Busch is a perfectly pleasant place to spend an evening and see a game. With the red brick facade of the stadium, the red seats inside, and the red jerseys worn by the extremely loyal and enthusiastic spectators, every game here is played in a sea of cardinal red. It is the center of one of the greatest baseball cities in America, it is rare to hear a conversation in St. Louis that doesn't revolve around the latest exploits of the beloved storied franchise, and Busch makes for a comfortable venue to watch the Cardinals in action.
Plus, St. Louis usually has a good scrappy team of contenders which can be a lot of fun to watch. Busch Stadium gives sports fans the chance to see one of the greatest players in the long history of the game, Albert Pujols, perform in his natural environment.
This ballpark bills itself as "Baseball Heaven", which is an obvious bit of marketing hyperbole. Admittedly, it doesn't have the charm or the history of Wrigley or Fenway. However, when it comes to a good place to watch a close ballgame, fans could certainly do a lot worse than watching the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium.
Awesome food, including giant smoked turkey legs, the most knowledgeable fans in baseball, and the chance to see the best player in baseball are all major contributors to making this one of the best experiences in the Majors. The sense of history is completely enmeshed with the modern luxuries of the new park.
I had been the old Busch Stadium before, and was excited to see this new version. Cubs vs. Cardinals, can't do much better then that. Plus, I was very surprised to find tickets for under face value on both eBay and StubHub. It was hotter then hell, and if you are like me and don't want to be square in the sun on a 100 degree day, I recommend section 344, which is in the maybe 5 percent of the stadium that isn't in constant sunlight. The stadium never got to more then 2/3 full, which I thought was weird for such an intense rivalry, but I will give the fans a pass because of the extreme weather. My favorite thing was the access to other sections...at Wrigley, they have become horrible and will not let you into other sections if you don't have a ticket, even in pregame. At Busch, if there were open seats, you could have at 'em. We got in just as the doors opened and watched batting pratice from the bleachers...I even caught a ball from Geovany Soto.By far, the worst thing about Busch was the food. At $8.75 a beer, especially for crap like Bud, I didn't even have a desire for one. (incidentally, I think of the now 27 MLB parks I have been to, this was the third most expensive beer.) I had a great brisket sandwich for $9 right away, but by the fourth inning, the concession stands near us were all out of everything but the normal hot dogs and burgers...they were out of the brisket, pulled pork, and turkey legs. Plus, the lines were not very long, and took forever to get through. I missed over an inning!!!! The fans were great, though many had left by the Cards comeback attempt in the ninth inning. Parking was a breeze...if you don't mind getting there early, you can park less then two minutes away for $10...a bargain by Cubs fan standards. The outside statue garden is great...much like Comerica in Detroit. I proudly wore my Andre Dawson jersey, and didn't hear anything from anyone, which differed from the intense mocking I had heard about. Aesthetically, the view over centerfield is awesome...the arch and the small St. Louis skyline are great, and in the evening I bet look incredible, like a poor man's Pittsburgh with the Roberto Clemente bridge in full view. It is a little Cookie Cutterish from the inside, like most new stadiums, but nice enough. It took us just under four hours to get there from the Chicago suburbs, so I heartily recommend a road trip for all Cubs fans...we left at 7AM, were there by 11, and could have left to come home at 5, which would have put us home at 9. Good times!!!
When historic baseball franchises are mentioned, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are frequently the subject matter. Championships, longevity and in at least one case, infamy, carry the discussion forward. But there is a franchise based on the banks of the Mississippi River which has created a magical atmosphere, one that has brought great success and a fan experience that is unparalleled in Major League Baseball.
Founded in 1892, the St. Louis Cardinals franchise was the westernmost club in pro ball until the Dodgers and Giants moved from Brooklyn and New York at the end of the 1957 season. This distinction provided a magnificent marketing opportunity for the team to attract generations of fans from far away over the first half of the century. To this day, the club conducts what is called the Cardinals Caravan, a campaign to sell partial season ticket packages to fans in a twelve-state region around Missouri.
The experience has been refined and perfected over the years. When the Busch family bought the team, they recommitted to a winning culture after many bad seasons in the 1970s. The 1980s featured WhiteyBall, winning teams, three pennants and one World Series Title in 1982. When the Busch family sold to a group led by Bill Dewitt, Jr. in the 1990s, the team was coming off poor seasons and the new owner put the club back on track. Since then, Cardinals fans have been treated to entertaining baseball with successful results and a rewarding in-person experience which is among the best in all of sports.
I remember hearing the late Cardinals’ marketing executive, Marty Hendin, say you cannot control the result on the field, but you can control making sure a person leaves the game feeling like they received good entertainment value for their money and time spent. Having appreciated world-class guest service at restaurants, hotel and theme parks throughout the world, the experience at Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game is similar to what a guest experiences at Disney World. You are greeted upon entry with remarks such as “Good morning” and “Enjoy the game!” Because you have a ticket for the game, you are an invited guest, one of 50,000 Cardinals fans, who, if even for just one game, make you feel like you are part of the family.
There are a few things to know about the new stadium relative to its predecessor. The new stadium, Busch Stadium III, is partially on the site of Busch Stadium II. When they built the new stadium, they completed one half of the stadium before the 2005 season was completed. If you drew a line from about where the Stan Musial statue sits on the West side of the stadium due east to right field and then took the length of that area and took the entire plane south to Highway 40/64, you might be able to envision the first phase. The stadium is within ten feet of the highway, but the noise is buffered thanks to the installation of the scoreboard in two pieces from Busch Stadium II, each with the statistics from when the final game ended. It was about four weeks after the season ended before demolition occurred.
One week after the season ended in mid-October with a loss in six games to the Houston Astros in the 2005 National League Championship Series, the old stadium was completely demolished to make way for the area that would be the right field and center field areas. This was completed in just more than five months. When you look out behind center field or even more visibly, behind left field, you are looking at where the stadium once stood. More accurately, you would be looking from the right field or center field of the old stadium toward home plate.
I have never been let down by Busch Stadium and its patrons. Where else can you go and have a creditable chat with almost any fan in the stadium about any topic in baseball? The fans are as respectful of visiting fans as any in the game and probably know baseball better than any other as well.
Everything about this ballpark screams Cardinals and I think that's cool. Much like Comerica Park in Detroit, the St. Louis Cardinals have put their logo everywhere!! Walking around the outside of the park and seeing all of the historical logos in the brick was really cool as was all of the sidewalk pieces commemorating great moments in the team's history. The giant Stan Musial statue is fantastic and so are all of the smaller statues of other famous Cardinals. Unlike the Yankees, the Cardinals added some nice touches to honor their championship years without being annoying about it. Seeing the arch in the background was really cool and the stadium views are nice.
Wonderful view of the downtown and Gateway Arch is the highlight of this stadium. Easy to move around, staff friendly and allow you to sit in other seats for pictures, great transit connection from the airport, excellent fans (one of whom gave me a free ticket). Main problem is expensive food, but you can bring your own, which I recommend.
Went to the game where Michael Wacha came within an out of throwing a no hitter in just his ninth career start. So that was fantastic.
Everything at the stadium is way overpriced. Easily some of the most expensive food I have ever seen at a baseball game. And the gift shop prices were pretty high up there as well.
Compared to the old Busch Stadium, the views are much nicer, and looks like the neighborhood will soon have rooftops like Wrigley. A great looking park, but a very expensive day at the ballpark.
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