St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri is baseball town. There’s no question about it. If you feel the need to doubt the first sentence, you’re ignorant.

In case you need proof, maybe see that St. Louis has twice lost NFL franchises. One of them moving back to the city they originally came from. The Cardinals also have consistently had some of the best crowds in MLB on a yearly basis. Sellouts or near sellouts are common at Busch Stadium.

Of course, when you’re one of the best run franchises in MLB, fans will show up. The Cardinals have won 11 World Series, the most in the National League. Only the Evil Empire in New York has more World Series titles. However, even when the product on the field was subpar, Cardinals fans still show up better than most other fanbases.

The Cardinals celebrate after winning the 1964 World Series.

Busch Stadium (third ballpark to go by the name) opened in downtown St. Louis in 2006. The Cardinals christened the inaugural season of new Busch by winning their 10th World Series. It marked the beginning of a new and exciting era of Cardinals baseball.

At the time, the Cardinals were actually on a pretty successful run. Now they just got to do it in a true baseball park and not a cookie cutter stadium.

The arches around Busch Stadium made it stand out from other cookie cutter stadiums.

To be fair to the old Busch Stadium, it actually was not half bad for a cookie cutter ballpark. Perhaps it was the fact that it had a different exterior. Maybe it was the fact that in the mid nineties Busch Stadium switched back to grass. Other cookie cutter stadiums did not and most of those teams would see new ballparks by the turn of the century.

My first trip to Busch Stadium came on a hot July day in 2018. It was stop one of what came to be known as the Midwest Baseball Fest. Parking is relatively easy to find in downtown St. Louis. We parked in a garage about three quarters of a mile away from the ballpark and walked from there.

For starters, because of the stadium being right next to the freeway, you can’t walk a complete lap around the highway. So make sure you know where you are going first if you want to avoid any extra steps.

Outside the ballpark behind left field, there is a place called the Ballpark Village. It is kind of similar to Eutaw Street in Baltimore. In my opinion though, Ballpark Village should be “part” of Busch Stadium.

The Ballpark Village adds a nice touch to Busch Stadium.

The Ballpark Village was under construction when I was there. When it’s completed, it’ll have all sorts of things like restaurants, bars, and apartments. I can’t imagine what it will cost to live in one those apartments, but I’m sure it’ll be a solid bachelor pad for the single man who can afford one of them. There’s also seats kind of like the rooftop bleachers you see at Wrigley Field. Like Wrigley, those bleachers aren’t actually “in” Busch Stadium.

Outside the stadium near home plate you will also see a statue of Stan Musial, one of the greatest players of all time. If you walk just a little further down, you will see mini statutes of all the great Cardinals like Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and a handful of others.

Lou Brock is one of a handful of Cardinal legends memorialized outside.

When we got into the ballpark, it was pretty easy to navigate our way around. Each level of the ballpark has plenty of walking room so you don’t feel too crowded. It was nice in that regard because the Cardinals regularly have some of the best attendance numbers in baseball. For me, the game I went to was one of the biggest crowds I’ever seen in person for a non playoff game.

The concourses provide plenty of room to roam about.

On each level, they have places you can hang out before or during the game. One of them is on the top level and it’s the Budweiser Patio. Just be careful of the sun on a hot day. The top level also had some pretty cool standing room areas too. That’s provided you don’t need something to lean. You’re gold if you just like standing and watching baseball.

A good place to stand if you’re looking to stretch out your legs.

While there’s really no bad seat in Busch Stadium, you’d be hard pressed to find a good deal on concessions. Before I go any further, I want to let it be known I liked everything else about the ballpark. The concessions, however, I’ve never seen prices so high at a stadium.

I like getting souvenir cups at every stadium I go to as something to remind me where I’ve been. Souvenir cups at Busch Stadium are $9.25. Yes, you read that correctly. No, you don’t get a free refill. Another reason why PNC Park in Pittsburgh is the best ballpark.

This shouldn’t cost $9.25. To add insult to injury I left this cup behind.

It was cool to walk around and see concession stands have names like Dizzy’s Diner and the Gashouse Grill to pay homage to the team’s history. But your wallet is getting significantly thinner if you spend money there. One prime example? A Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone is $8.25. No thanks. I will bring my own food in.

The Gashouse Gang brought success in the 1930s.

For the game, we sat in my favorite spot when I go to a new ballpark. Upper deck, behind home plate. When you sit up there at Busch, you get a great view of downtown St. Louis and also get to see the Gateway Arch. It makes for the picture perfect backdrop to a baseball game.

The staff was super accommodating too. One stadium attendant even guided me to a phone charging station when I asked him where one was.

Good backdrop for a baseball game.

To summarize it all up, I liked Busch Stadium. I think the concessions are outlandish, but that’s about my only complaint.

St. Louis is the best baseball town I’ve been to so far. It will probably stay up at the top for awhile too.

Like the other ballparks I have been to, I hope I can return one day.

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