I started this blog in 2008 where I went on a mission to eventually visit all 30 ballparks in MLB. As a huge sports fan, I have been attending lots of sporting events as of late, mostly Ohio State athletic events and MLB games. Through the end of the 2010 season, I have visited a total of 18 current ballparks in the majors, although only 16 of them have been blogged as I have not visited Dodger Stadium or Safeco Field since I started this segment.
First up for the new season is Busch Stadium III in St. Louis, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. This is a great baseball city and the Cardinals have a great history having the second most World Series championships. I picked quite a bad time to go there since the St. Louis area was battered by severe storms, tornadoes, and heavy rains that weekend. Friday night was so bad that the game had to be delayed for two and a half hours. But the skies were clear enough to at least get the game in and the game finally ended at around 12:30am.
The ballpark is downtown, so there are plenty of parking spaces close to the ballpark. You can pay as much as $20 to park right across the street from the ballpark, or as little as $5 to park past Kiener Plaza and walk about three blocks to get to the park.
If you go by public transportation, the Metrolink light rail has a stop right outside the ballpark. You will get dropped off at the Stadium Metrolink station.
What's Outside the Ballpark:
Let's start off at the home plate entrance on 8th Street. You cannot make a complete trip around the park from the outside as the area between the home plate and first place entrance is a restricted area. When walking along the sidewalk, there are bricks with a message by donors, with a square in the center that describes a famous moment in Cardinals history. Then at the third base gate, there is a statue of Stan "The Man" Musial in his signature batting stance. Moving right along to the left field gate, there are statues of Cardinals legends Roger Hornsby, George Sisler, Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Ozzie Smith, Dizzy Dean, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, and Cool Papa Bell (who played for the St. Louis Stars of the Negro League). Moving right along to the left field gate, there is a statue of Jack Buck, the legendary announcer for the Cardinals. On the wall behind the statue, it has his autograph and his signature phrase "That's a winner!" on it. Moving right along, there is the center field gate. Across the street from it is where the old Busch Stadium used to stand. Markings there outline where the field once stood. Then there is nothing to see continuing on.
What's Inside the Ballpark:
Let's start out in the outfield where I entered the ballpark. Behind the video board in right field is a panel that displays various information about today's game that includes the pitching matchups and the time and temperature. Then going towards center field, there is a gathering area where fans can convene and special events can take place like concerts and autograph signings. Today, Ryan Franklin was signing autographs in that plaza. Nearby that, there is the U.S. Cellular plaza, which is a showcase booth for gadgets that carry service from U.S. Cellular. In this area, a mini baseball diamond is created out of bricks, and on the pitcher's mound, there is a Ford vehicle on it. Moving right along, there is a pavilion with a kids fun zone. There, kids can take batting practice and test their fastball. Also in that area, there is a game room where you can play the latest of the MLB 2K series.
Going into the main concourse area under the stands, there are the usual concession stands with a few serving specialty food. Along the way, the old-fashioned manual out-of-town scoreboards from the old Busch Stadium have been relocated here for display. They show what the scoreboards look like after the final out at the old Busch Stadium. Along the way, the latest Ford vehicles are showcased just past gate entrances along the way.
Going up to the upper level where my seat is located, there are more concession stands, and lots of places to see downtown St. Louis from this high. In once place, there is miniature arch that is painted with artwork. The upper concourse is built in a fashion similar to Citizens Bank Park and Target Field as in you can see the field from the upper concourse area. You go up a stairway and then through a gate to get into the seating area rather than going through a gate without walking up first where the seats will block any view from the concourse area. This allows a lot of standing room opportunity from the concourse area. On the third base side is a Hardee's concession stand and they have neon lights with two cardinals and the trajectory of the star. It goes into motion when the Cardinals hit a home run. A big roof covers the upper concourse and it kept me dry during the rains. On top of the roof are the pennants that display all the NL teams. In the left field section, that is separated by the Hardee's stand, there are pennants that display all the cities of the Cardinals minor league affiliates, plus one with Jack Buck's famous catchphrase after a Cardinals victory.
The field is pretty large, and hence this park favors pitchers. On the grass, there is an imprint of the Gateway Arch, the iconic structure of the city. In right-center field is the main scoreboard, with two cardinals on the top with a clock between them, the sign for Budweiser below it (which is the brand of beer that is most associated with Anheuser-Busch, the company that owns the naming rights), then the main scoreboard is below it and then the retired numbers below it, then a seating area below it, and a ribbon LCD panel underneath these seats. Then below it are bleacher seats. To the right of that main scoreboard is the out-of-town scoreboard. It shows the flags of all the years the Cardinals won the World Series, and the rest of that area is used primarily for advertisement.
Where I Sat:
Section 450, which is behind home plate on the upper concourse. The sightlines were great from this place and the view of the skyline with the arch is incredible.
Home Run Fanfare:
For each Cardinals home run, the tornado siren sounds and fireworks are shot from the top of the scoreboard. The song played for the celebration is Sandstorm by DaRude.
If there is one thing I was greatly disappointed at with this park, it is the food. The selection is pretty much your standard ballpark fare. There were only a couple of specialty food items here and neither of them really enticing for me to eat. I ended up getting a bratwurst and garlic fried. They were alright, but nothing special. Both food items are way better at AT&T Park than here.
Brining Drinks Inside:
You are allowed to bring in water in factory-sealed plastic bottles.
First of Third:
First. You can see more of downtown St. Louis from this side, although you will be seeing less of the arch.
The Game: Cardinals 4, Reds 2
After the first batter of the game reached on a walk, the rain started to pour in and a show was put on by Mother Nature's fireworks, aka lightning, in the skies just outside the city. Shortly after, severe storms blew into the downtown area and the tornado siren was sounded to get everybody into the main concourse. I watched part of the severe storms from the gift shop and it was a gigantic mess. While tornadoes ravaged through the city, downtown was not affected by them. Then the storm moved on and the game was resumed at 9:30.
When the game continued, the scheduled starters were replaced as Matt Maloney pitched for the Reds and Kyle McClellan pitched for the Cardinals. Two singles and a sac fly by Albert Pujols got the Cardinals on the board during the bottom of the first, then Pujols drove in another run during the bottom of the second. David Freese batted in another run following a leadoff single by Lance Berkman to make the score 3-0 Cardinals. Brandon Phillips, who was booed loudly due to the incident between him and Yadier Molina last year, hit a solo shot to get the Reds on the board. Then the Cardinals got the lead back up to three in the bottom of the 5th. The Reds mounted a rally to get the score to 4-2 in the top of the 7th that chased McClellan out of the game. Then the Reds made another rally attempt in the 8th, but the Cardinals bullpen shut them down before shutting the door in the 9th giving the Cardinlas the victory. That's a winner!
Drop by the gift shops. Normally, there are just team merchandise in these stores. But at this ballpark, the main one has some memorabilia from Cardinals players in the past.
That night also happened to be a fireworks night. Since I was staying downtown during this trip that I decided to stay for the show even though it was way late at night. I'm glad I stayed as it was nice.
The Cardinals execs kept it simple when designing this park. The idea was to build a place suite for baseball and to capture the St. Louis skyline. All that in retro-style. And I can say that they did that with great success. The views are nice, and the aesthetics are awesome since I could not find a bad seat in the house. Not to mention, the fans are quite a passionate bunch out there. The only thing that I found disappointing was the food.
4.5 (out of 5) Blade Children. The melody of logic will always play the notes of truth. And this place always had that melody.
Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals
Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers
Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles
Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins
Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies
Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals
U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox
Angel Stadium, home of the Anaheim Angels
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres
AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants
Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies
PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Oakand-Alameda County Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics
Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers
Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians
Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds