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It wasn’t long ago the St. Louis Blues fell into a tailspin, the result of trading away and releasing players to reduce salaries. The window of opportunity to win had closed and the team owner at the time, Bill Laurie, saw fit to shed expenses in an effort to make a quick sale. With a less-than-marketable product to sell, fans stayed away.
Numerous off-ice leaders from the marketing and sales ranks followed as a team which once showed so much promise on the ice had passed. This was about as bad as it could get.
The resurgence began with the arrival of Dave Checketts and new ownership in September 2005. The revival was aided when noted hockey sportscaster and one-time Blues goaltender John Davidson was hired to lead the team as President. While this duo failed to reach their intended goal, the franchise quickly gained improved footing. The team’s current upward trajectory came through shrewd draft selections, financially sound personnel decisions, and strong leadership at key levels of the organization.
Currently, the Blues have a new face leading the franchise, local businessman Tom Stillman who led a team of investors who purchased the franchise from Checketts in May 2012. Stillman brought with him a vigor and insistence that the team make changes to ensure its success on the ice, and profitability off the ice. Among other things, this meant ticket prices would be commensurate to the value of the product.
The massive discounting and low ticket prices for the sake of flooding seats with fans have pretty much ended. This new approach has been tested and St. Louis fans have responded in finding value by continuing to purchase tickets even at higher prices. Added to the effort is the return of franchise icon Brett Hull who serves in a prominent business building role for the club.
By delivering a successful on-ice product, there are higher expectations of the off-ice product, and the Blues have built a satisfying experience. The enjoyment of attending Blues games keeps getting better and better, and if you are fortunate to attend an NHL game in St. Louis, you will see just how rewarding it is.
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".
What once was a mediocre offering of food and beverages continues to improve each season. Along with the standard choices, there are a few new and improved options.
Choose from four new sandwich choices:
Pastrami Brick Sandwich (a generous portion of pastrami with cheddar, Swiss and grilled onions on Pullman bread for $9).
St. Louis Beer & Pretzel Dog (a jumbo beef dog with bacon, dill pickle, brown mustard and beer cheese for $9).
Chicago Style Big Dawg (a jumbo beef dog with sport peppers, onion, tomato, relish and pickles for $9.50).
Chicken & Waffle Sandwich for (a chicken breast, pepper jack cheese, fried onions, bacon and spicy sauce for $9). A photo of the four creations can be found in the image gallery.
Finally, you can build your own foot-long bratwurst for $12 outside section 124.
As for items commonly found at NHL hockey arenas for comparison sake, prices are pretty fair for the most part.
For adult beverages Anheuser Busch products are sold at Scottrade Center. A 16 oz. bottle of beer is $9.25, wine is $8, 16 oz. draft beer is $9.
For soft drinks, Pepsi products are sold. A 20 oz. bottled soda is $5.50, bottled water is $5, Red Bull and coffee is $4. A regular fountain soda is $5.50 while a bottomless soda is $7.50.
You can choose from a variety of snacks where regular popcorn is $4, but bottomless popcorn is $7. A pretzel is $5.25, fried cheesecake is $5 and an order of ten cinnamon sugar donuts is $8.
Other entrée' items include a regular hot dog for $5 and a jumbo hot dog for $6.25. Regular bratwurst and jalapeno bratwursts are $6.50.
There are several options for a slightly better cut of food offerings, one of which requires a club ticket, the other wide open for all fans.
14th and Clark, which faces the intersection it is named after, offers a carving station, pasta options, hot dogs, and numerous snack options along with all drinks included in the price of your ticket. The club tickets range from $75 to $125 and you can get in an hour before gates open to the restaurant.
Come and go as you please at this multi-level spot during and after the game, even watching play on the ice through closed-circuit television. When you are ready to see the action with your own eyes, step right out into the main seating bowl at the main concourse level.
Also, consider the Bud Light Zone for slightly more elegant dining. Details are in the latter portion of the review under the atmosphere section.
Just above this more formal area is Top Shelf, a large area of open space with raised tables for groups to gather and dine. Food can be brought from the concession areas to this viewing area, also at the end where the Blues shoot twice between sections 326 and 331.
Forty-six years is plenty of time to develop a following and build a tradition. The fans have contributed in many different ways over the years as generations of St. Louisans have enjoyed the good, the bad and in some cases, the ugly during Blues' history.
It is common to see three generations attending a Blues game, each wearing their favorite Blues jersey from eras far apart from one another. A quick gaze across the sections during pre-skate and it is common to see jerseys honoring Bob Gassoff, Mike Liut, Bernie Federko, and Red Berenson. And with more than twelve uniform changes over the years, the variety of these jerseys is wide-ranging. Part of enjoying a Blues game is learning the history before entering the arena.
As you consider where to sit, keep in mind a few things relative to how I choose which seat to view a game. I like to sit facing the benches up high and close to the end where the home team shoots twice. That said, for purposes of this review, you are sitting in section 320. This is directly behind the broadcast booth in the upper level on the center red line. This is also the side where the penalty boxes are.
The Blues shoot twice to your right, directly in front of sections 109-110 are (an aisle between section is directly behind each goal). Across the ice from your seat, the Blues are at the bench to the left of the red line in front of section 102, the visitors to your right in front of section 104. Visitors defend the goal to your left in front of sections 122-123.
Both teams enter their ice to the blue line side of the bench. To slap hands and wish the players well, find your way down to sections 102 or 104.
The arena restaurant, known as The Bud Light Zone, offers views of the ice and provides a perfect atmosphere for dining while enjoying the game. The 500-seat venue is on the club level above sections 108-111, but you can gain access to it without having a Club Level ticket. Prices are a little high, but keep in mind, you get a view with your meal. Buffets are popular and provide an incredibly wide variety of food and drink. The adult buffet price is $29, and it is recommended that you call for reservations - (314) 622-5444.
In the seating bowl, seats are comfortable and adequately padded. Space between rows can be a little tight in the higher levels of the arena. Aisles are wide with handrails up the middle. Sections are pretty much right on top of the ice.
Avoid the sides down low which tend to be some of the more expensive seats. The glare from the glass prevents a clear view of the action unless play is directly in front of you. Up high in the lower level is nice, but for the price, get an upper level ticket on the sides.
Like most NHL clubs, tiered pricing is a clever and prominent way to upwardly adjust prices before the season begins based upon opponent and/or the attractive dates on the NHL calendar. The Blues have a three-tier system which designates each game in either the Gold, Silver, or Bronze category. For instance, a game against hated rival Chicago would have a higher value than a game against Florida.
Along with applying a tiered-pricing approach, overall prices have increased in recent years, a reaction to the undervaluing of overall ticket prices under previous ownership. For comparison-sake, consider during the 2011-12 season, the cheapest face value ticket in section 322, row K (or higher) for a "bronze" game on a Tuesday night against Phoenix is $21. Two years later with all conditions the same, that same seat is priced at $30.
Let's say for that same "bronze" game, you want to sit a little closer to the ice, right behind the goal where the Blues shoot twice in section 109. During the 2011-12 season, that ticket would cost $51, but for the 2013-2014 season it costs $65.
Now, if you consider a "gold" game from both seasons, you will find the cheapest face value ticket has risen from $38 to $48. The highest priced face value ticket currently for a "gold" game, is along the glass in row A and costs $360.
With respect to these upward pricing changes, the team should not be criticized for these moves as they need to yield a profit. The former approach of lower prices, but quantity as an offset simply did not result in profitable conditions. The current approach of higher ticket prices AND getting nearly 20,000+ nightly is the track the club is on now and should be expected to continue.
The best seat for the money is section 318 in the upper deck, row B on the balcony. Seats in this section provide a view of both benches on the end where the Blues shoot twice. Here you get the best views and are near the escalator which connects this 300 level with the main concourse.
Why not row A, you ask? It's simple. Depending upon the game, a seat in row A costs $24-$29 more than a ticket in row B.
One little tip. For $20, you can join the Jr. Blue Note Club and get two upper deck tickets for one of several designated games. After the game, kids can come down onto the ice and shoot the puck a few times and get their picture taken with Louie, the Blues mascot.
Once you have selected your seat and game day arrives, focus on getting to the arena early. Gates open one hour before game time. As you enter the main gate just to the right of the ticket office, make a quick left and follow the outer perimeter to your left to begin a visit to the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. It covers all of the former and current local pro and collegiate sports. Until a permanent site can be determined, the artifacts are cleverly displayed in large glass cases throughout the outer perimeter of the main concourse.
As you first walk into the arena, one of the first things you might notice here is unlike all of the new arenas of the last twenty years, the entire main concourse is closed off from viewing the game live while fans stroll to get food, visit a restroom or buy merchandise. You must enter a long corridor for each section and then enter the seating bowl to see the game in the lower level. The top shelf offers a limited open view on the one end, but that is it.
The concourses are wide at the lower level, but quite narrow at the upper level. At both levels, conditions are frequently congested largely due to the concession lines spilling into the open walkways. I still cannot understand why human beings cannot figure out the queue to order food and drinks can bend out of the way of the walkways. Furthermore, why can't venues guide fans this way when lines start to form? Anyway, just know it is congested up top and less congested throughout the main concourse.
Restrooms, food choices, and merchandise are plentiful at all levels, but if you want some of the specialty items, get those on the main level before heading to your upper level seat. Access to the upper levels can be gained largely through escalators and an elevator or two for those with mobility issues.
To see the pre-skate, get to the lower level along the glass no later than 50 minutes before game time and position yourself at section 117. You will get a great seat for the 18-minute warm up which starts 35 minutes prior to game time. The home team walks from their dressing room across the ice from this section.
As you wait for skates to gnash the ice, take in the team's pageantry, the limited number of division, conference, and other distinctive banners hang above the west end of the ice. Banners honoring the six retired numbers belong to #2 Al McInnis (1994-2004), #3 Bob Gassoff (1974-77), #8 Barclay Plager (1967-77), #11 Brian Sutter (1976-88), #16 Brett Hull (1987-98), and #24 Bernie Federko (1976-89).
The four distinct symbols (one of which is unofficially retired) hang above the east end of the ice. One represents longtime broadcaster, Dan Kelly (with a DK inside a green clover honoring his Irish heritage). Another represents Bob Plager, a longtime defenseman and employee with the Blues since year one (with a #5).
A third symbol (#14 with a flame inside it) honors Doug Wickenheiser (1983-87), a popular forward and owner of the game-winning goal the night of the "Monday Night Miracle" in 1986. The fourth and last symbol is #7 which honors four former star players, Red Berenson, Gary Unger, Joe Mullen, and Keith Tkachuk. This number is not worn by a current Blues player and is "unofficially" retired.
There are many things you will see, hear, and experience that are unique to the Blues. The first is the famous march when the Blues step onto the ice, another is when the crowd revs up for a power play and then finally, once things have slowed down after a home goal is scored, a special celebration after they score a goal.
Unlike many pro hockey arenas, the classic pump organ is a fixture at the Scottrade Center. Since their inaugural season, the team has entered the ice to the sound of the W.C. Handy song, St. Louis Blues. The team's organist sits among the fans near the stairwell to section 328. Perched near the Top Shelf Deck, Jeremy Boyer bangs out the classic organ tunes (see image in the gallery).
After a quick skate by players around the ice, the music changes tune to the song made popular by the hometown company, Anheuser Busch, with "Here Comes the King". Once a goal is scored, the top of the arena comes near to be being blown off. In addition to the loud fog horn (an added feature in all NHL arenas with St. Louis being the last club to adopt the post-goal alarm) the organ blares a modern version of "When the Saints Go Marching In".
It's not over yet, though. At the first break after a home goal is scored, train your eyes to the front railing of section 320 in the upper deck. Out of seat 18 in row F, The Towel Man descends to perform. I'll leave it at that. Ron Baechle puts on quite a show.
Intended arena noise also includes Charles Glenn, a jolly and rotund fellow who can't be missed. He roams the arena with microphone in hand encouraging fans to sing "When the Blues Go Marchin' In". He also belts out memorable versions of both national anthems, a real gem of the game experience in St. Louis.
Scottrade Center is in downtown St. Louis, just a mile or so west of the Gateway Arch. It seems like just yesterday the downtown area was a bustling place. There are just a few places to eat within walking distance of the arena.
Although it might seem like there would be, please know there is no reason to go inside historic Union Station. Avoid it all costs. The once busy transportation hub and more recently shopping and dining areas are pretty much abandoned now. While there is hope to revive the space, it will not come before you visit within the next five years.
Across the west side street from it though, there is a restaurant at the Drury Inn. Lombardo's is a magnificent place to dine and you can park on the street for free and then walk to the game.
Maggie O'Brien's caters to a pub crowd and serves a tasty array of sandwiches and brews. Also consider Harry's, a little more upscale and just west of Union Station. This is certainly the place to be after the game, too.
One last nearby place is Syberg's, on the first floor of the Hampton Inn along Market Street just west of Union Station and across the street from the earlier mentioned Harry's. When at Syberg's, order the shark chunks as an appetizer. I have never seen them offered anywhere.
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 like barbeque, look no further than Pappy's, a little more than two miles west of Scottrade at 3106 Olive Street. The line can be long, but be assured; it is worth every minute you wait. Consider their famous ribs and pulled pork, order the fried corn on the cob and sweet potato fries as sides, and wash it all down with their sweet tea.
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 arena. 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.
Also, whatever you do, do not leave the area without having a cannoli for dessert. Missouri Bakery at 2012 Edwards Street is the place to go for this.
Lastly, if you like Frozen Custard, you cannot go wrong with Ted Drewes. Along historic Route 66 since 1941, this location is just nine miles southwest of Scottrade at 6726 Chippewa. The famed custard stand swells after a hockey game, but don't be concerned as the staff really moves the crowd through the line. Try one of their "concretes" and when you order, ask them to show you what makes it a concrete.
Things to consider doing while in St. Louis when you have open time are the Gateway Arch ground, currently undergoing a massive, multi-year renovation. Travel up one of the trams inside one of the legs to the top and underneath the ground, and be sure to walk through the museum of westward expansion AND see the movie on how the Arch was constructed.
The St. Louis Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country (and it is only one of three major American zoos that is free to the public) all contained in Forest Park, a multi-purpose city jewel actually larger than New York City's Central Park.
If you are lucky enough to plan the right weekend in the Fall timeframe with a Blues game on a Saturday or Sunday night, you might be able to couple it with a Rams game. The Edward Jones Dome, where the Rams play is within a mile or so of Scottrade Center. The Cardinals season seems to overlap (because they make the postseason nearly every year) in October and of course April when NHL playoff season begins, so Busch Stadium may be an option for a two-sport doubleheader as well.
A few things describe the three generations of Blues' fans, but chief among them is "intense loyalty". Through thick and thin, Blues fans have supported their club, of course more fervently since the team has been highly competitive the last few years.
Should you choose to drive, there are several options for parking in the multitude of small lots and several nearby parking garages. Of course there is metered parking as well. The garage next to the arena is reserved for season ticket holders who buy parking memberships. Parking garages near the arena range in price from $5 to $20.
Small parking lots of various sizes can be found south and west of the arena. 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 about a quarter mile.
If you want to drive to the game, but desire a cheaper option, try the metered parking north of the arena one block along Market Street. If you cannot find a spot there, keep going north to find a spot along one of the streets which parallels Market. Although you will need to be conscious of the one-way streets which surround the arena, it is worth it.
If you choose the meter option, know that after 6:00 PM, meters are free Monday through Saturday. 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 4:00 PM, load coins (quarters preferred) in the amount of $2.00, and your parking ends up being pretty cheap for the entirety of the night.
Another good way to get to the game is through MetroLink, the St. Louis light rail system. The trains are neat, clean and safe and there is a station right at the arena, the Civic Center Station. This is also the same complex which shares a facility with Greyhound bus service and Amtrak train service. Although the light rail system is pretty identifiable, make sure you board the right one.
MetroLink lines run from the Western suburbs to downtown and stretches across the Mississippi River to Illinois where there are eleven 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 arena. The southernmost trip has a little more scenery than the northernmost trip.
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 it only when you are ready to board. From the time of validation, you have two hours to use the ticket. Security randomly checks tickets and issues citations on the spot so be careful.
You will come away with good value when you see the Blues at Scottrade Center. Park on the street, walk a short distance to the arena, save a little for the bottomless souvenir soda cup, and sit in the $29 seats and you are in great shape.
Although with team success comes the likelihood of increased prices, it still is a good value, and it always has been.
Merchandise is fairly priced as well with something always offered at a special value, something most teams seem to be doing these days. While it might not be the best-looking hat or shirt, it still is of good value at the $10 or $15 price point.
GAME PROGRAM - although the club is in the process of returning to selling a standard game program, fans must currently settle for the $1 roster card which comes with current stats and a photo of a featured player on the reverse.
However, just outside the arena on the street, you can get purchase an "unofficial" program offered to fans for $2. Known as St. Louis Game Time, the program offers sarcasm and humor as a means of providing information leading up to the evening's tilt.
MERCHANDISE - the club offers an array of merchandise throughout the arena, but their main store, True Blues, is just to the left of the main gate along Clark Street (also known as Brett Hull Way). Check the rear of the store for close-outs on items from previous years and discontinued models. There are good values here as well as some high end items including autographed goalie masks from some of the greats.
Also, the team offers a featured item each night, normally a standard type product at a highly attractive price point. On the other side of the arena from the main store, fans can purchase various eras of team jerseys and have them lettered and numbered during the game.
HOF PLAYER STATUES - just before entering the building at 14th and Brett Hull Way, be sure to visit the three statues outside Scottrade which honor Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis and Brett Hull.
LOUIE - the Blues' fuzzy bear mascot is quite the loveable symbol to young fans. He is everywhere and a key fixture in the Jr. Blue Note Club.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Scottrade Center is the home of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. The arena opened on October 8, 1994 as the Kiel Center, and the Blues became its permanent tenant after moving from nearby St. Louis Arena, a historic but run-down barn-style venue built in the 1920s. In 2006, the naming rights to the Kiel Center were sold to local online start-up Scottrade, giving the building its current title.
The Center has been used for numerous different events since its opening. Along with hockey, college basketball, arena football, and indoor soccer have been played at Scottrade, and it routinely hosts concerts, circuses, and ice shows as well. The biggest crowd in the arena's history is 22,612 for the 2007 Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament, but its capacity for hockey is slightly lower at 19,150.
The success of the St. Louis Blues has fluctuated in recent years. They've never won a Stanley Cup, although several of their most popular players did with other teams they were traded to. They were a continuous playoff presence for 25 straight years, they struggled in the early part of the new Millennium, but they were never the worst team in their division until the 2005-2006 season. For all of the bad things you can say about them and their owners, they're always an interesting and entertaining team, and their home arena is a nice and comfortable place to watch them play.
Like most arenas in recent years, the corporate owned Scottrade Center has changed names a few times since the Blues started playing there in 1994. Fans attending a game in its current incarnation can expect to have as good of a time as in any other place to see a hockey game.
When the National Hockey League doubled in size in 1967, few expected the St. Louis Blues to contend. Fans had become accustomed to witnessing exciting hockey in the form of the St. Louis Braves, the Central Hockey League farm team of the Chicago Blackhawks, but success never came their way at the St. Louis Arena.
But things were much different with the Blues. Owner Sidney Solomon and his family created an extended family environment by bringing in veteran players and treating them as one special group taking them to Florida for vacations and rolling out the finest owner-player environments in the League. St. Louis was the place to be for players and under the leadership of Head Coach Scotty Bowman, the club and the city enjoyed early success and a new found form of sports entertainment to call their own.
Aligned with the five other expansion teams in one division, the Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals their first three seasons. In those early years, the Arena was packed, fans dressed up in suits and dresses and the experience was special. If you had Blues tickets, you were someone special. Despite being swept in those series, the franchise remained competitive despite two very short spans in the mid 1970s and during the mid to late 2000s when losing seasons were common. In fact, the club held a record playoff appearance streak from 1980 to 2006.
Many great names once wore the blue note such as Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, current Michigan head coach Red Berenson, Hall of Fame goal scorer Brett Hull and Hall of Fame playmaker Bernie Federko. Other notable former players include Jacques Plante, Glenn Hall, Dickie Moore, Brendan Shanahan, Adam Oates, Grant Fuhr, Scott Stevens (for one season) and even Wayne Gretzky (for just thirty-one games including playoffs in 1996).
The team had a successful 2011-12 season where they challenged for the NHL’s top spot until the last game of the regular season. The Blues now have all local ownership thanks to Tom Stillman and his group. Coach Ken Hitchcock was named NHL Coach of the Year and General Manager Doug Armstrong was named General Manager of the Year. Times seem to be good again in St. Louis.
The Blues current home, their second since 1967, is the Scottrade Center. Opening in 1994 under the name Kiel Center, a nod to the historic and adjacent facility, the first Blues game was not played until December of that year due to the labor impasse. The building has undergone several changes to include a color change in seats (the original ones were all fuscia) and the development of more open spaces where fans can congregate, eat and drink while watching the game from something other than a seat. Just six years ago, the team was struggling to get 14,000 fans at their games. Things have changed for the better including new local ownership which changed hands in June 2012. The future is bright for the current version of the Blues providing a new level of excitement for fans, not seen in these parts for well over a decade.
With exciting, winning hockey, there comes popularity and increased demand for tickets. Prices are rising as well which is helping the arrival of the area’s newest minor league hockey team, the St. Charles Chill, with being able to take a piece of the competitive entertainment pie. Witnessing a game at the Scottrade Center is thrilling with lots of local flavor and an opportunity to immerse yourself in blue-collar hockey, a hallmark of the Blues in the Gateway City. Take advantage of the Midwest hospitality and a lengthy hockey history which is sure to satisfy.
201 S 20th St
St Louis, MO 63103
2000 Market St
St Louis, MO 63103
1933 Edwards St
St Louis, MO 63110
6726 Chippewa St
St Louis, MO 63109
2430 Old Dorsett Rd
Maryland Heights, MO 63043
400 S 14th St
St Louis, MO 63103
2340 Market St
St Louis, MO 63103
333 Washington Ave
St Louis, MO 63102