One of the best all around baseball franchises... great fan support, wonderful tradition and history and
awesome stadium, can be found HERE, in St. Louis. Since 1966, the St. Louis Cardinals have called
Busch Stadium home. This venue was one of the first of the multi-purpose "cookie-cutters", round
stadiums with changeable seating to accommodate a football or a baseball configuration. And indeed,
the Cardinals and the St. Louis football Cardinals shared this stadium for decades, until the football
team left for Phoenix. And even the NFL St. Louis Rams played here for one season before moving to
their permanent home down the street. And in 1997, the Cards made some dramatic changes to the
ballpark, shrinking capacity by adding a panoramic scoreboard and centerfield display area and
numerous other enhancements. The end result is a chunk of Baseball Heaven, a veritable theme park
and a throwback to an era when baby boomers were growing up and falling in love with the game.

Getting to the venue
Busch Stadium is one of the dominant fixtures of an impressive downtown skyline and streetscape.
Easy access off of the interstates.. I-57 going north and south or I-64 going east and west. Being a
downtown setting, most parking adjacent to the stadium is available at multi level parking ramps, as
well as some private surface lots mostly south of the stadium. Parking fees here run as high as $20,
although the stadium ramps charge $12.. There is not much free street parking to be had. The St.
Louis light rail system is called Metrolink, and there is a station right across the street from the
ballpark. Being in the middle of a pretty bustling downtown, streets tend to jam up on game days so
allow enough time to get to the stadium.

Outside the venue
Downtown St. Louis is clean, vibrant and bustling... of course the famed Gateway Arch dominates the
skyline, and being a convention city, high rise hotels are everywhere. The ballpark itself sports a main
entrance plaza called the "Plaza of Champions" with a statue of Cardinals great Stan Musial
surrounded by flagged markers commemorating each St. Louis World Series championship. Other
statues of Cardinals greats also surround the building, and even banners showcasing some great
moments in the team's history on the building. Across the street is the "International  Bowling
Museum/Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum." So who put this combo together!? But here in St. Louis
it works well.

Stadium Exterior and Concourses
Walk around the stadium and it is a maze of ramps and bridges inside the building. The most
distinctive feature here is the canopied roof, which is designed as a series of  small arches
resembling the real thing. The little arches look especially impressive when floodlit at night.

The entrances are all at loge level, and ramps take you upstairs to the terrace level, or staircases lead
you down to field level, as the field itself is below grade. The concourses here are musty, a bit dank in
spots, some peeling paint, but the Cardinals have a done a great job sprucing up the corridors with yet
more flags, murals of players and former greats, nice concession canopies with liberal use of neon
marquees, and championship banners. The centerfield "Family Pavilion" on the loge level is the place
to be...plenty of baseball  and interactive games for the youngsters, specialty food stands, yet more
exhibits, picnic areas above the bullpen with a view of the field, all nicely decorated and laid out.

There are no escalators, but plenty of ramps so have your walking shoes on. And even though this is
an older stadium, concourses here are somewhat spacious and easy to navigate.

Seating bowl
Ah yes, the stadium's seating area makes this place look special. Capacity is around 45,000 seats,
and is broken into three levels...field, loge and terrace. Seats are all colored red, save for a few club
seats behind home plate. But it is the panoramic centerfield scoreboard and display which is so nice
and so unique. On the terrace level is a game scoreboard flanked by AL and NL out of town
scoreboards, all hand operated. Down at the loge level is a dot matrix board and a video board, roughly
along the power alleys, and in the center is a neon Coca Cola billboard with changeable graphic. ON
the left field side is a display of flags commemorating the team;s World Championships, and on the
right side is a display of the team''s retired numbers. Flags of all their minor league franchises fly high
above the roof.  Put it all together and you have one of the best outfield scoreboard views in all of Major
League Baseball.

Concessions
For an older venue, there is an amazing diversity of ballpark fare..the usual stuff is augmented by
grilled burgers and chicken sandwiches, a really great Mexican stand, but the signature treat to be
enjoyed here in St. Louis is the  toasted ravioli. These meat filled morsels are sprinkled with
parmesan cheese and accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce. You gotta try 'em! A lot of the
specialty food stands can be found in the centerfield Famly Pavilion.

Premium seating
We didn't get up there, but on the suite level is a "Stadium Club" with table dining service and a view
overlooking the left field . And yes, one level of  gondola suites encircles the entire seating bowl, and
premium seating can be found in a special section right behind home plate.

Banners/retired numbers
The team's glorious history is personified in its pennant style display of its retired numbers...Ozzie
Smith, Red Schoendienst, Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Ken Boyer, Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock, and Bob
Gibson are joined by beloved owner August Busch and Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck. Nine
World Series championship flags are proudly displayed in the outfield, the most recent one won in
1982.

Home runs, hits, errors...

Home run - to the wonderful displays at the Cardinals Hall of Fame across the street. The team does
such a great job displaying its glorious history. The entire setup here reeks of nostalgia and tradition.

Hit - They have a real organ and organist here, which adds so much to the charm of this place. In the
mid 8th, they play the clap along Budweiser Clydesdale theme song, a great St. Louis tradition.

HIt - Parts of the new ballpark's footprint sits where the current ballpark is located and some of which
includes the new playing field. With this in mind, the Cards have the left field foul pole and center field
"402" sign for the new park marked out at Busch.

Hit –  (return visit) The USRT karma came in with a win over the division leading Braves on Friday
night…..It was short lived as Andruw Jones hit two homers for the Braves the next day to hammer the
Cardinals.

Error... do they REALLY need a new ballpark in St. Louis??? And that leads us to...

Summary
Of all the 60s/70s cookie-cutters, Busch Stadium and Washington's RFK Stadium is all that is left. And
what a magnificent job they did keeping this place up and turning it into the kind of baseball venue with
so much to do, so much to see and enjoy. The seating bowl is an eye popping delight, the concourses
like a theme park, history and tradition showcased everywhere, the ghosts of Cardinals past seem to
smile down on this place, terrific downtown setting. It all comes together soooo well! But come 2006,
the team moves across the street into a NEW Busch Stadium, which from first appearances, looks like
the 200th version of Camden Yards, with its brick facade and wrought iron accents. UGH! To be fair,
the place will probably be very nice and very opulent, and will have all the bells and whistles and those
pricey club seats and luxury boxes. But for once we can say with firm conviction that the move will not
be an upgrade. Just new digs. For St. Louis baseball fans have their own piece of Baseball Heaven
right now in their current Busch Stadium. We were truly lucky to have one final time to come visit, to
gaze in awe, to enjoy this place before it sees the wrecking ball late in 2005, to be replaced by a portion
of the new venue's outfield and a "Ballpark Village". SO RIP Busch Stadium and thanks for the "Millions
of Memories".

SCORING:
Architecture 5
Food and team store 7
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Ushers 7
Fan support 9.5
Location and neighborhood 8
Banners and history 9
In game entertainment 5
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: Plaza of Champions 2; Hall of Fame museum 2; Panoramic center field display 2; great
moments displays 1
TOTAL: 69.5
Busch Stadium
#49  




Busch
Stadium   




St. Louis
Missouri   




September
30,
2000




Cincinnati
Reds
at
St. Louis
Cardinals



return
visit



August 5-6,
2005



Atlanta
Braves
at
St. Louis
Cardinals