St. Louis has long held a special spot for the world’s most popular sport. Renditions of professional soccer have come and gone over the decades. Amateur soccer has become wildly popular with select teams continuing to build massive facilities to support the growing interest in what has already become a burgeoning activity.
Historically, few know the 1950 US World Cup Soccer Team included five St. Louisans as part of the starting eleven players the day they defeated England 1-0. The story was told in a book, The Game of Their Lives and a movie by the same name (later changed to The Miracle Match).
World Wide Technology Soccer Park hosted World Cup qualifying matches leading up to the US national team's 1990 birth, the end of a 40-year absence from the world’s top soccer tournament. From May 1987 to September 1990, the United States played six matches outscoring opponents 15-1 en route to a 5-1 record. These matches consisted of an Olympic qualifier, three World Cup qualifiers, and two international friendlies.
While Major League Soccer remains a hope in St. Louis, the current USL club is an affiliate to the Chicago Fire of MLS. The potential building of a new NFL stadium on the St. Louis riverfront includes elements to host a future MLS team. As far as the game's popularity, St. Louisans have proven to come out in force for outdoor soccer, as shown in recent events hosted at Busch Stadium and the Edwards Jones Dome.
Today, the complex, known as World Wide Technology Soccer Park, is comprised of five fields including the main pitch, known as Marshall Wireless Stadium. The complex is host to local club St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC. In all, 265 teams and 3,600 players call it home. The inaugural season for St. Louis FC in 2015 will continue the proud tradition of soccer in the Gateway City. The club is competing in the USL, the third tier of professional soccer in the United States.
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".
It can be difficult for an organization to strike the right balance instead of having too many choices of food and drink or not enough. St. Louis FC has figured it out. There are plenty of locations and most are permanent concession stands, offering a nice variety of food and drinks to enjoy.
Most of the locations are behind the west seating area, permanent locations which offer the best variety of entrée-type food. However, there are three others; behind the north goal near section 18 (candy soda and light food items), behind the south goal near section 8 (known for a wide selection of beer) and inside Gate 7, across from section 7 in the southwest corner (similar to a food truck offering).
On the west side near gates 1 and 4, consider one of my all-time favorites, the bratwurst. They are the best and at $5, a great value. Bottled or fountain soda is $3.50 and Pepsi products are exclusive here.
If you like nachos, order the Messi nachos at $4, a nice touch on a sport-specific name everyone knows.
There is a wide range of other items, too, but I found the burger combo at $12 to be overpriced.
Beer is plentiful throughout and with a wide variety. Bottled and draft are sold between $5 and $6.
Beer choices include options which are a little different between the north and south concession stands on the west side of the stadium. At the north concession stand, you will find draft beer; Bud Light, Bud Select, Blue Moon, Heineken and Whale Ale. At the south concession stand, you will find Bud Light, Bud Select, Goose Island, UCBC Seasonal, Heineken, Kraftig Light, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy and Blue Moon.
There are a few other places to enjoy food and drink at the pitch.
Raymond James Soccer Park Grill, behind section 3, is open exclusively to Soccer Park Club and VIP fans. Visitors here enjoy a wide variety of Pepsi, Madrina's, and Red Bull products, as well as bottled and draft beers. A special feature of the Grill is the Red Bull Bar, featuring a variety of signature cocktails from Red Bull.
Another place is the Budweiser Biergarten, the newest place to hang out at Soccer Park, located by the south concession stand behind sections 6 and 7. The Biergarten features Anheuser-Busch draft and bottled products.
The Guinness Stand, located at the press box near section 4 and features a variety of bottled beers such as Guinness, Smithwick's, Harp, and Guinness Blonde on draft.
Outside the main complex area on the west side is the Itap Craft Corner, located by the scoreboard and featuring a special variety of craft and imported beers. This stand also includes Pepsi and Madrina's products.
Sweet Treats can be found near the press box. This station features Dippin' Dots, Ice Cream, Candy, and rumored "world famous" chocolate chip cookies.
The northeast concession stand is located at the east side stands by the flagpoles. This stand features Pepsi products and a variety of bottled beers along with numerous food items.
The southwest concession stand near gate 4 is a food trailer featuring some of the players' favorites like the Bundesliga Brat, Walking Tacos, Pretzel Bites, and Chicken Tenders.
As has long since been the case, attending a game at Marshall Wireless Stadium is loaded of atmosphere. While only holding 5,500 fans, it is cozy and contains the sound. The first row is just steps from the field on the east side of the pitch.
There are four gates at the stadium. Starting in the northwest corner is gate 1, a little further south and where the box office is located is gate 2, a little further south of that is gate 3 and in the far southwest corner is where you will find gate 4.
So that you might plan in advance, banners may be brought into the stadium and are encouraged, provided they are not offensive, in poor taste, or commercial in nature. Banners may be draped or hung from the rail, as long as they do not obstruct the view of any guests, stadium signage or present any safety hazard.
If you are standing at midfield on the west side of the field at section 4, the benches are on the east side of the field facing west. St. Louis FC occupies the one south of midfield, their opponent the one north of midfield. The only scoreboard in the stadium is to your right, across the field just shy of the far corner flag, but behind the end line.
Consider a few other things when selecting tickets. The field sits on the west side of the Meramec River and, the sidelines run parallel to it. Each goal represents due north and due south. While seats on the west side of the field (sections 8 through 18 running south to north) are cheapest, you will be staring into the sun for the first half at games beginning at 7pm. It is brutal.
Sections 1 through 7 run north to south and while a little more expensive, afford you a better experience as some of those sections have more comfortable seating and seats on the west sideline are closer to the prime food amenities, bathrooms and parking lot.
Prices from low to high involve General Admission at $15 (sections 8-11 from south to north, but south of midfield and sections 15-18 from south to north, north of midfield) on the east side of the field. Rows go up to K and are bleacher seats, not fixed position seats. Interestingly, sections 8 and 18, corner sections, curl around the corner flag and have a few seats behind the end line. I prefer section 18 if you like these as the scoreboard will not obstruct your view there. Length of rows in many of the sections here are 21 seats.
East Reserved seats at $20 can be found in sections 12-14. Section 13 is the midfield section.
The west side of the field has prime seats with rows extending as high as "N" or 14 rows up and the longest rows extend 21 seats in a run.
West Reserved seats are $20 (sections 1 and 2 on the northwest corner and sections 6-7 in the southwest corner).
VIP seats at $25 are found in sections 3 and 5. Soccer Park Club seats at $50 (based upon the price per ticket when dividing the season ticket package price by 16 games) and can be found exclusively in section 4.
While VIP seats are available on a limited basis, Soccer Park Club seats are sold out for the 2015 season, but can be found on the secondary market and sometimes outside the stadium being sold by ticket holders. The benefit of sitting in these seats is largely the comfortable chair back whereas all other stadium seats are bleacher spaces.
If you like sitting next to the boisterous supporters, known as the St. Louligans, you will want to sit in section, the southeast corner near the only scoreboard in the complex. If you don't want to sit near them, at least watch them march into the stadium at Gate 4 about 15 minutes before the match.
If you want to get close to the players as they enter the pitch, you will want to do that behind section 4.
The stadium is near the northwest corner, but west of the Meramec River from where highway 270 and 44 interchange. This is and has long been an industrial area. The field and complex used to be visible from highway 44 before offices were built in front of it. There is a large Road Ranger there, too, and plenty of hotels and restaurants within a few miles, but none are within walking distance and it is an effort to get there.
Still there are a few restaurants near the park. Consider Helen Fitzgerald's, O'Leary's and Hotshots which are all nearby, just a mile or two away and along highway 44 at the Lindbergh exit.
St. Louis has long been a fervent soccer community and the enthusiasm for the sport, be it amateur up to professional is always top notch.
In the last few years, St. Louis has hosted outdoor matches drawing magnificent crowds. Busch Stadium hosted a friendly on May 23, 2013 between Manchester City and Chelsea of the English Premier League. Tickets sold out within 20 minutes of going on sale and Manchester City won 4-3 in front of 48,263 fans. On November 18, 2013, Busch Stadium hosted a friendly in which Argentina defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0 before a crowd of more than 30,000. Down the street a ways at the Edward Jones Dome, on August 10, 2013, Real Madrid defeated Inter Milan 3-0 in front of 54,184 fans, a record attendance for a soccer match in St. Louis.
While that proves their commitment to the world's game, you will encounter knowledgeable people from ethnic backgrounds spanning the globe, some with distinct accents, looking forward to enjoying soccer and making it a friendly environment for visitors.
Access can be challenging for drivers, but just remember exit 274B if you heading eastbound on highway 44 (the exit Is a little west of the soccer park, but it is just how this access point is laid out) or exit 275 if you are heading westbound on highway 44.
Parking is a little tricky in that there are few spots at the stadium. Park your own car for $10 or Valet parking is available for $15. There are a few local businesses to the west of the complex who charge $10 for a short walk. Cash only.
Tailgating is allowed in the North End of the Soccer Park parking lot, but open flames and kegs are prohibited.
If the price or lack of plentiful parking spooks you a bit, consider the Pub2Park option, a clever way to drive traffic to the game while helping local restaurants build their business and a following and provide ease in coming and going to a St. Louis FC match.
There are four, pre-determined restaurants who participate, ranging from pubs closer to downtown St. Louis, about 25 miles away, to nearby eateries. Moving from east to west toward the stadium, choose from the International Tap House in the Soulard area of downtown St. Louis, Amsterdam Tavern near Tower Grove Park, Smugala's in Sunset Hills and Hot Shots in Fenton, just across Highway 44 from the Soccer Park.
Pick-up times are scheduled accordingly and the shuttle travels westbound, pretty much along Highway 44, picking everyone up along the way before it gets to the stadium. For a 7pm game, first pick-up, furthest away is at 5:45 PM while the last pick-up is at 6:30 just a few miles away from the stadium. While there is no charge for this helpful service, you must RSVP at least one day in advance of game day so an accurate shuttle count may be determined.
Parking, tickets, and food are fairly priced and you will enjoy a night watching St. Louis FC. Knowing the organization is positioning themselves for a run at an MLS team, they are doing all they can to make their product and service highly desirable. As you walk the stadium and take in the sights and sounds, you can see all of the little touches are covered. It is a professional display, but with comfortable, enjoyable vibes throughout. Ushers and concession workers are friendly and helpful. You are a guest at their home and they make you feel as such.
St. Louis FC has a radio broadcast for all home matches and this can be found on 550 AM KTRS. The pregame begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff and features noted soccer broadcaster Bill McDermott (Play-by-Play) and Bob Ramsey (Color Commentary). A post game show begins immediately after the match ends.
While there is a roster printout you can pick up on your way into the game, look for the QR codes posted throughout the stadium which, upon using the QR reader on your handheld device to scan it, allows you to access the game day digital program. While I like the program as a souvenir from the match, this is a clever process allowing you to gain updated access to game information and statistics in the palm of your hand.
If you are looking for merchandise featuring the majestic team logo on soccer-specific items and other clothing pieces, you can find this in the dedicated pro shop behind section 5 on the west side of the stadium. I found the pricing to be in-line with what you would expect with a varied selection sure to please anyone. The only items which I could not find were mini and regular sized soccer balls with the team logo.
For small children needing to blow off steam away from the pitch, you can visit the Blue Chip Fan Zone. It includes inflatable bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals, sponsor and vendor booths. The zone is open during every home game beginning 90 minutes prior to kickoff up until game time.
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3650 S Lindbergh Blvd
St Louis, MO 63127
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