- 700 Clark Avenue
- St. Louis, MO 63102
- (314) 345-9600
So, here’s the whole reason we took a little vacation to the St. Louis area. My buddy with partial season tickets to the White Sox picked up a ten game package with the Cardinals this year. We still wanted to do our yearly trip to U.S. Cellular Field, but my dad, my brother and I haven’t seen Busch, so we decided to add that game to our agenda as well.
My dad and brother drove down with our friend K, but I drove down on Friday with my family. We did some family things on Saturday before I met them at the ballpark. I got a hotel downtown at the Crowne Plaza so I walked. The guys I was meeting drove in and my buddy K knew the best place to park in the area to get back on the highway. I have no idea where they were at, but parking at Busch Stadium looks to be all around the park. There are surface lots plus a number of ramps in the area that offer much cheaper parking than the $30 I saw walking around the stadium. I know the ramp that I parked in at the hotel was charging only $5 if you were willing to walk about ten minutes to the stadium.
The current incarnation of Busch Stadium is actually the third stadium in St. Louis to bear that name. The original was Sportsman’s Park which took on the Busch name in 1953. Busch Memorial Stadium preceded the current Busch Stadium on nearly the same piece of land in downtown St. Louis. The first two Busch Stadium’s were named after team owner Gussie Busch. This one is actually a corporate name taken from Anheuser-Busch.
The new stadium opened in 2006 as one of the retro ballparks. Like so many other downtown ballparks, including Comerica Park, the view from the seats is pretty amazing. Looking out over the center field wall is part of the skyline towards the Mississippi River and, of course, the Gateway Arch. When you look at the old park and new park side-by-side, the new park looks so much smaller but yet it holds only about 6,000 less people. Heck, even the night we were there, there was almost 45,000 people in the park.
The atmosphere pre-game is very similar to that of Comerica Park (my only other point of reference for a downtown ball park). Ballpark Village provides a good alternative to tailgating….seeing as how tailgating is not allowed…..so they can sell more of their $9 beers in Ballpark Village….but still, Ballpark Village is pretty cool and it starts as a gathering point for Cardinals fans.
From there, entry gates through Center Field are right across the street. We had a couple of beers and some burgers at Fox Sports Midwest Live! then headed outside to hop in line to get inside the park.
The park has huge concourse areas that were much wider than most parks I’ve been to…but with 45,000 people cramming those concourses, it still felt tight. I still felt like I was dodging people as we walked around to get a look at all this park had to offer.
Underneath the seating bowl, the park isn’t much different than any other park in the country. They have a number of shops, concessions and beer stands. I had joked with my group about needed some good strong bourbon…and what do you know? They had some craft distilleries mixing up cocktails. There was also a Goose Island bar which offered a few of the Goose favorites, but didn’t offer anything unique or hard to find like I was hoping. We found the most selection at the 8th Street Market. They had all of the expected Anhueser-Busch options, but they also had a small craft selection. I had an IPA from Urban Chestnut Brewing while K had a wheat beer from Boulevard Brewing. Once we got to our seats, it was back to Bud and Bud Light as that’s all the beer vendors brought around.
Like I mentioned, my buddy’s seats are part of a season ticket package. For a reason he doesn’t even know, the tickets are actually in the accessible seating area in the lower bowl down the third base line. We walked out of the tunnel and he grabbed four chairs and set them up. This worked to my advantage because my phone was dead. I had grabbed my charger from the hotel hoping I could find a plug-in at the restaurant. Turns out, there was a random power outlet right in front of my seat that I could plug in to and charge my phone. #winning.
As with most of the new modern-retro ballparks, the seats at Busch are all angled towards home plate. I don’t know what the upper deck is like, but we were sitting pretty far down the third base line and the view and sight lines were fantastic. Add that to the fact that we were sitting in folding chairs and this is one of the most comfortable experiences I’ve had watching a game in a packed Major League ball park.
No one in my group is actually a Cardinals fan, so we didn’t really care about the game. We were just there for the experience, but if we were actually Cardinals fans, the in-game atmosphere is one of the best I’ve seen during the a random regular season game. We obviously enjoyed the game….and enjoyed seeing Jeff Samardzija get beat up since that’s all he did for our White Sox last year…but the outcome was really of little consequence.
My brother pretty much raved all week about how much he loved Busch Stadium and how it’s almost enough to make him a Cardinals fan. I liked the park a lot and love that it’s downtown. I’m such a huge fan of the downtown stadiums where you can rent a hotel and walk to the game then pre- and post-game at the bars on your walk to/from the stadium. I’m glad we got to check this one off the list, but just for the sheer fact it’s over 6 hours from Kalamazoo, this will probably be my only trip to Busch.