Busch Stadium: Baseball Gameday Guide
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This is the third Busch Stadium to serve the team and its irrepressible fan base. It was with mixed emotions that St. Louis said good-bye to Busch Memorial Stadium at the end of the 2005 season, a ballpark that had witnessed seven National League pennants and three World Series championships.
But "the new Busch," as some people still call it, was inaugurated quite heartily the next season with the team's 10th World Series title. It sits partially on the footprint of the old stadium, so many fans believe the winning spirit never left. And, like its older version, the ballpark provides a fabulous view of the Arch from almost all of its 46,861 seats.
Baseball spirit is strong in the Lou; it's not unusual to see people wearing their Cardinals colors any day of the year. But on game days, the streets downtown fill with red 3 or 4 hours before the game. In the postseason, the fountains throughout the city run red as well, generating a spirit that buoys the team to victory over and over again.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants around the stadium to support the fans. In April 2014, the Ballpark Village entertainment complex opened next to the stadium, with a half dozen more restaurants and bars and a celebratory atmosphere that only adds to the fever pitch of Cardinals loyalty.
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Ballpark Village adjacent to the stadium elevates pregame activities to a frenzy in downtown St. Louis. For day games, the crowds begin arriving before 10 a.m. Get your picture taken with the Stan Musial statue, tour the Cardinals Hall of Fame, grab a bite and a beer or just stand on the street corner and watch the passion of what have been called "baseball's best fans."
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Budweiser Brew House | This new spot in the Ballpark Village celebrates St. Louis' long relationship with the King of Beers with a beer garden, a rooftop patio and lots of good times in between. The highlight is a 21-foot-long tap wall where you can pour your own or taste-test any of the 239 beers on tap.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Cardinals Nation Restaurant & Bar | One of several fun spots in the Ballpark Village, this restaurant has staked a physical claim on Cardinals Nation, giving the fan base a place to celebrate. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a front porch that all but touches the center-field gates. Make it really special with tickets for your group to the second-story bleacher seats, the best place to see the action in the stadium without going inside.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Anthony's Bar | This subdued little restaurant/bar inside the Equitable Building is a great lunch spot for the power brokers of St. Louis. On game day, you'll find Everett, a waiter at Anthony's for 40 years, wearing his Cardinals tie. Owned by the Bomarito family of the famous Tony's restaurant on The Hill, Anthony's is known for quality burgers, sandwiches and salads.
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Howl at the Moon | This normally night-time venue opens up to get the party rolling on game day, no matter what time the first pitch is scheduled. An 86-ounce bucket of booze for $25 and great music will get you and your buds pumped up for another victory across the street at Busch Stadium.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Joe Buck's | The people of St. Louis still worship his daddy, Jack Buck, the voice of the Cardinals for 47 years, but Joe Buck has earned a warm spot in Cardinals-loving hearts as well. This spot is known for great barbecue, good salads and a St. Louis favorite—toasted ravioli.
WHERE TO JOIN DIEHARD FANS
A super-fun and legendary spot is Paddy O's Sports Bar, literally in the shadow of the stadium's south side, tucked up against the pillars supporting I-64. Paddy O's is open only on game days/nights. Put your enthusiasm for the Red Birds into hyper-drive because anything less is unacceptable at Paddy O's.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT BUSCH STADIUM?
No. There's no tailgating allowed, but the energy downtown on game day and the pregame party at the Ballpark Village is even better.
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
- Gateway Arch
- The Cathedral Basilica
- The Old Courthouse
- Anheuser Busch tours
- City Garden
- City Museum
Busch Stadium is a sea of red and positive energy—it's hard not to be swept up into the community feeling that baseball is the greatest sport on earth.
WHERE TO SIT
There's not a bad seat in Busch Stadium. Most fans can't get enough of the Arch in the background, so seats on any level along the left and right infield will be best for that. A great view from the outfield is in an area called Homer's Landing, right under the scoreboard in Section 501—it's almost ground level, giving you a great view of the field. You can't see the Arch from Big Mac Land, in far left field between the 170 and 270 levels, but that's where the man Mark McGwire landed most of his hits (in the old stadium) to break the major league home run record.
Busch Stadium Seating Chart
Double Play Tap and Grill | Order the spinach, artichoke and parmesan flatbread pizza from this vendor in Section 135—it's all fresh ingredients from local suppliers. And since it's a sporting event, you've gotta have brat. The Bavarian Bratwurst at Double Play is fresh, never frozen, and made in St. Louis by G & W Meat and Sausage Company.
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Dippin' Dot | Sure, Dippin' Dots can be found at stadiums and theme parks around the country, but the ice cream treat was developed by Curtis Jones while he was a graduate student at nearby Southern Illinois University. He is a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan and has been honored with the opportunity to throw out the first pitch in a game. Look for eight carts around the stadium.
BEST BEER IN BUSCH STADIUM
Budweiser | You're in St. Louis, where they've brewed Bud since 1876, so every tap in the stadium built by this company serves fresh Budweiser. You won't be frowned upon for mixing it up with a selection of local microbrews, including Schlafly's and Shock Top.
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Farmers Market | Grab an apple or banana to snack on, or a fruit cup or fresh salad at this little stand near Section 136 in the Field Level. It's one of two places in the stadium where Red Bridge, a gluten-free beer, is available. (The other is at the Backstop, near Gate 2 on the Field Level.)
BEST STADIUM BAR
Bowtie Bar | The best selection of beers in bottles, cans and drafts, along with mixed and frozen drinks, can be found here on the Loge Level near the Left Field Porch. Lots of tables and big-screen TVs create a great gathering spot for friends who attend the game but may not be seated together. Unlike the other beer vendors, who cut off sales at the bottom of the seventh inning, the Bowtie Bar keeps pouring until the last strike, even if the game goes to extra innings.
EXHIBITS AND THINGS TO CHECK OUT WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Eighth Street in front of Busch Stadium is renamed Stan Musial Drive, and the monument to #6 is a popular meeting place for friends and family hooking up at the stadium. Stop and pay tribute and look down on the brick inlays that highlight great moments in Cardinals history. Those bricks lead you to the bronze statues of 10 Cardinals Hall of Famers.
The new home to the Cardinals Hall of Fame is in the Ballpark Village. Here, you'll learn more about the career of Stan the Man and relive the Cardinals' first night game played under lights. Swing the same bat with which David Freese ensured Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, and find out about a long forgotten woman named Allie May Schmidt, who, in 1921, drew the first red bird sitting on a bat that is now the symbol of one of the world's most successful sports franchises.
Busch Stadium Tours
CARDS GAMES ON A BUDGET
Busch Stadium allows you to bring your own cooler to the stadium. It has to be small enough to fit under your seat and cannot contain alcoholic beverages, but otherwise, save a fortune on soft drinks and water this way.
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Fox Sports Midwest Live! | This massive entertainment venue inside the Ballpark Village offers a Beer Tower, which is 64 ounces, for $35. That breaks down to $3.50 a draw, so bring a friend or two to take advantage of this bargain.
BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND THE STADIUM
White Castle | White Castle is a St. Louis landmark, known for burgers called "sliders" that are so small, it's not unreasonable to eat a half dozen in one sitting. At just 69¢ each they won't break the bank. No one claims the food is great, but White Castle is a tradition as solid as Cardinals baseball in the Lou.
BEST CHEAP CARDINALS TICKETS
Busch II Infield | This grassy area is on the infield of the old Busch Stadium, sacred ground for many Cardinals fans. It's just across Clark Street from the current stadium in the Ballpark Village, where fans throw down a blanket or bring lawn chairs and watch the Jumbotron. You're technically not in the stadium, but it's close enough to hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd and an experience not offered at most other major-league parks. The best part: it's free!
BUSCH STADIUM WITH KIDS
Members of the Cardinal Nation believe in getting fans indoctrinated early, so infants and children are just as visible as adults at Busch Stadium. This is not a place where fans get rowdy to the point that families would be uncomfortable.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
The Gateway Arch | Take the whole family to the top of the magnificent Gateway Arch. It's educational—part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial operated by the National Park Service. And it's fun to climb into the little space capsule-like modules that serve as the elevator to the top of the 630-foot-high arch. Look across the mighty Mississippi River into Illinois and, from the opposite windows, down into Busch Stadium, where you'll soon be watching a game.
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Prairie Farms Kids Zone | Healthy and fun food like squeezable applesauce, chicken nuggets and chocolate ice cream served in baseball helmets help keep little ones excited about their day at the game in a fun space all their own near Section 501.
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
The best place for getting autographs is in Section 141, by the Cardinals dugout. If you don't have tickets for these seats, security will usually let you hang out around this area until 45 minutes before game time. Sections 158-164 offer the best opportunities for autographs from the visiting team.
Five games during the regular season are designated Autograph Days. These are May 15, June 5, July 10, Aug. 7 and Aug. 28, all Wednesdays. Current players make themselves available from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and former players from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Fredbird Field is the fun space filled with oversized helmets, gloves and balls perfect for toddlers to crawl on, under and through. A small batting cage, a T-ball field and a speed-pitch center really engage kids in the game of baseball. Older kids will love 2K Sports, an interactive video game center where they can play a virtual game of baseball in an air-conditioned environment. It's all located near the Ford Family Plaza near Section 501.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
All the team stores have some kids gear, but the location in Section 501 of the Ford Family Plaza has the largest selection of children's wear.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A CARDINALS GAME
Downtown St. Louis has always been lively after a Cardinals game, win or lose. Several legendary restaurants and bars have kept the party going for generations. Try Lloyd and Harry's Bird House. For those who don't hang out in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, the bars at Laclede's Landing or in Soulard always offer a good time.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
St. Louis Ballpark Village | As if Cardinals fans needed any more places and reasons to celebrate, this square block of restaurants/bars and good times across Clark Street from the stadium absolutely explodes with red until the wee hours, which is 3 a.m. on weekends.
WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
Mike Shannon's Steakhouse | Great steak in a slightly upscale setting for those who need it after a game and a 1,000-person beer garden called The Outfielder for those who prefer that environment—Mike Shannon's Steakhouse speaks to all levels of Cardinals fans. The radio voice of the team, Shannon first served the organization at third base and in the outfield, contributing to three World Series championships in the 1960s.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
Just a few blocks south of Busch Stadium is the Soulard neighborhood and a collection of some legendary blues halls for which St. Louis is famous. Try the Broadway Oyster Bar and enjoy a bowl of gumbo with your blues. Then stroll a few more steps to Beale on Broadway, home to one of the great beer gardens in the area. Just follow the crowd and the music for more good times.
A card-carrying member of the Cardinal Nation, travel writer Diana Lambdin Meyer actually attended a Cardinals baseball game on her honeymoon, and lives for October when the fountains in St. Louis run red with postseason pride.