PLEASE NOTE: Pics are upcoming, I took so many that I have to pick which ones to put on here!
For my second stadium visit on this awesome adventure across the United States, I drove from Chicago to St. Louis to check out the home of the team I grew up hating. Because I got into STL past 5, it made going up in the Arch impossible. Tickets were sold out, so instead I decided to try one of the famed STL BBQ joints, Bogart’s, which left me pretty disappointed. On the way there, my Uber took me past the new Busch Stadium. Being that this was the first part of my adventure where I did not have my dogs and I was not in my parents’ basement, the simple drive past the stadium got me pretty hyped.
I realized on the Uber ride just how close my hotel was, so I contemplated whether I should stay parked in the lot I was in which was only $12 or if I should move my car to another lot. Considering I was leaving STL straight from the game, I decided to park in a lot by the stadium. Because these lots were more expensive, the decision ended up costing me an additional $8. However, I felt that the $20 I was spending on parking was worth it because my car, with all its branding, would be a billboard to fans going in the stadium.
I purchased my ticket on StubHub a few days before the game. For just under $30 ($29.54), I got a ticket that retails for $55.90 ($66.90 with fees). I noticed around the stadium there were no second hand sellers, so my decision to buy the ticket via StubHub was a good one! I wonder if STL has laws which prohibits ticket scalping? The major drawback for me, with StubHub, is that I like having a paper ticket as a souvenir. Unfortunately, the Cardinals box office would not give me a paper ticket. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this but it turned out to be my one of only two complaints I have with my St. Louis Cardinals/Busch Stadium fan experience.
Outside the stadium the aura of the park was incredible. Despite the Cardinals having a down year, everyone was happy and very friendly. Wrigley has a few statues of legends, but Busch had so many statues, I can’t even name all the guys. I was thrilled to buy a bottle of water for $2 that I could bring in the stadium, so long as it remained closed. I honestly believe every team should allow this, especially during the summer heat, because teams should show that they care about their consumers and their health. Walking around Ballpark Village was pretty darn cool. The fan engagement there was far superior to that of Wrigley’s new “Park at Wrigley.” They had a bar which had screens all over and they even had stadium seating on the Cardinals Nation rooftop that overlooked the game. For me, this was important because I believe people should actually watch baseball if they are at the stadium. What a concept, right? The Cardinals Hall of Fame was in the same building, and let me just tell you—it blew my mind!
I love the historical aspects of the game, I find them fascinating. As a kid I collected baseball cards with my dad and he taught me a lot about the great players from the past. I have seen three games now, been to countless cities, and seen many friends and family on this journey so far. However, the highlight to this point is my time at the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum—and all for just $12! The amount of history there was incredible. If you love baseball history, even if you are a Cubs fan like me, this is must see. I could write on and on about how wonderful the museum was, but instead you will have to check out some of the attached pictures. The main highlight was being able to hold Stan Musial’s game-used bat from the 1951 season! OMG that was cool! Did I mention that I met Musial as a kid at a baseball card show? That made it even cooler. I spent so much time in the HOF, I didn’t make it to my seat until the 2nd inning.
When I got there, I was already pretty amped up. Baseball history does that to this guy. My view of the game was pretty stellar, especially considering my seat was so cheap. I was told there is not a bad seat in the stadium and I found this to be true. I spent a couple of innings in my seat before wandering up to the highest and furthest spot from the field, and still my view was great. I noticed throughout the game that security was not very tight, and by inning 7, I was literally in the first row behind the visitor dugout! I am not sure if I have ever been as close to the field as I was here at Busch. It was truly amazing, and rather than security busting my balls, they took a picture of me! Beyond my views of the game and where I ended up sitting, there was so much more about this park that made it incredible.
I was shocked by how many retail options were present. Further, the merchandise for sale was pretty sweet. There is a store with game-used memorabilia and signed merchandise of current and past Cardinals legends. I found it fascinating that I could buy an autographed Stan Musial item for significantly less than a Kris Bryant World Series item. Bryant is good and has a great career ahead of him, but he is not a deceased Hall of Famer and one of the all-time great baseball players…The game used memorabilia was pretty expensive in my mind. For anywhere from $1500-3500 (depending on if it is regular or limited edition) you can bring home a Yadier Molina game-used jersey. However, a Matt Holiday or Adam Wainwright game-used jersey is just $800. I never really knew that Molina was so much better than those guys.
The other retail stores had some pretty sweet merchandise, but it was all exorbitantly priced. I found three things I wanted: a long sleeve “vintage style” shirt for $89, a sweatshirt for $100, and a short sleeve “vintage style” shirt for only $59. I could not fathom spending that much money on any of these items because after all, I am still a Cubs fan. So, I went on EBay while I was at the game and found an awesome 1982 World Series Champions long sleeve shirt which I purchased for less than half the price of the cheapest item I wanted at the Cards stores. As a history buff, this is so much cooler than any of the “vintage style” items!
Facility wise, there were some other amazing things about the stadium. Free water in coolers with ice was available to all fans! The bathrooms were clean and did not have piss on the floor like at some other stadiums (Wrigley). As a smoker, I appreciated how big the smoking area was and the socialization of the fellow smokers. Even though I was open about my Cubs affiliation, everyone was still very friendly and welcoming.
Food wise, this park has some unique options. I have now been to three parks this summer, and this is the only park which I actually decided to indulge my belly. I got a bacon wrapped hot-dog which I had read about for $9.75, and it was amazing. I also got some mini donuts for $6 and they were pretty good too. I had so many different food options, but these were the two I settled on. I really wanted to try the toasted ravioli, but I was disappointed to find that they no longer serve it. Overall, I cannot wait to go back to this park and indulge in some other tasty treats.
As much as it pains me to say this, my experience at Busch Stadium was the second best baseball experience in my life—only rivaled by watching the Cubs win game 5 of the World Series at Wrigley. The stadium was amazing, the food was great, the energy was wonderful and the fans were pleasant and welcoming. The staff was also superb and friendly unlike other places I have watched games. In addition, you can even view the famed Arch from the ballpark! If you ever have a chance, you must see a game here!
Overall rankings of parks thus far:
#1-St Louis Cardinals-Busch Stadium
#2-Chicago Cubs-Wrigley Field
$5 on 50/50 raffle
$9.75 Bacon Wrapped Hot-Dog
$12 HOF ticket
$2 water (outside stadium)