I always feel as if I need to preface these reviews with the disclaimer that I attend 20+ games a year at one of the worst ballparks in the league. Most, if not all of the ballparks I review here top the Metrodome, Busch included. New Busch is a beautiful ballpark, and it has all of the features that make for a good baseball watching experience (large concourses, good sightlines, many restrooms). That said, I found the game experience at Busch to be pretty generic, maybe the most dull of the “new” ballparks I have been to (probably ahead of Great American Ballpark though; PNC and Safeco would be the only others that fit into that category, so it has some stiff competition).
All of Busch’s character is on the outside. I like that you can’t go to a ballgame without experiencing some Cardinals’ history. The sidewalks are lined with tiles that commemorate different moments from the 100+ year history of the franchise. As you walk the path, you can almost walk through time, from the birth of the franchise to Albert Pujols’ home run to win game six of the 2004 NLCS. I even found a little bit of Twins’ history mixed in.
In front of the team store, the Cardinals have placed statues of greats, not just from the Cardinals’ organization, but from St. Louis baseball history. It is there that a bronze statue of “Cool Papa” Bell is included among Cardinals greats Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, and Ozzie Smith. A larger statue of Stan Musial can be found at one of the main gates, but his upper body seems just a little out of proportion, so I prefer the smaller version with the rest of the statues. There is also a nice tribute to Jack Buck outside of the stadium. He was, by far, the better Buck and will always be known around the Twins Cities for his call of Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 home run.
The inside of the Stadium, like the vast majority of parks built since 1992, is easy to navigate and fan-friendly. There are family restrooms if you happen to have a six-month old with, and plenty of room in the concourses, which were pleasantly cooled by the breeze for the most part.
My advice on a hot summer evening, however, would be to avoid the corner along the left field line just to the foul side of the foul pole. The pleasant breeze does not hit that corner, but the sun does, making it sauna-like in the St. Louis humidity. To add insult, part of left field was shielded from our view. Our seats on Saturday night were on the opposite side of the field, where the breeze found us, helping us enjoy the view of the city.
The park itself is beautiful, but the game experience leaves something to be desired. Perhaps it just didn’t meet my expectation coming in. I have always heard how great of a baseball town St. Louis is, and expected the game to reflect that. To my disappointment, Busch had all of the little annoying things that seem to have taken over the baseball: kiss cam, a silly mascot, and stupid in-between inning games. The fans even did the wave during a close game, a big no-no if you are supposed to be considered “knowledgeable” fans. Perhaps my standards were too high, but the experience at Fenway still stands as the only recent game I have been to where it felt like everyone was there to watch baseball. In fairness, I suppose a World Series win brings out those who don’t normally follow baseball. Maybe the St. Louis regulars don’t do the wave during close games.
The scoreboard provides a lot of information, but still falls short in that it relies too heavily on batting average, rendering the stats posted almost useless. There was an OPS sighting during Albert Pujols’ first at-bat, but it was not provided for each batter, and as the game went on the stats presented for the players became more ridiculous, such as “so-and-so is 1-for-11 after the seventh inning during night games against teams .500 or better”.
The food was good, but nothing really stood out. I was disappointed that the $5 “jumbo dog” would be called simply a “hot dog” by most honest vendors. As is typical of our experience at outdoor ballparks, the fresh squeezed lemonade stand was our first stop before the game, and Emily was happy to find Ben & Jerry’s was readily available throughout the ballpark.
Overall I liked Busch, and my biggest complaints had to do with the in-between innings silliness that I typically can ignore. I recommend a visit to Busch, but make sure you take the time to stroll around the outside of the park.
Born August 9, 1970
Born August 9, 1957
Born August 9, 1943
Bill “Soup” Campbell
Best nickname ever. He also was one of the last members of the Baseball Tonight cast that I could stomach. He pitched for the Twins early in his career, from 1973 to 1976.
Born August 9, 1930
Pitched for Washington in 1957.
Born August 9, 1919
Stopped in Washington long enough to start seven games in 1951.
Born August 9, 1878
Howard “Highball” Wilson
I take back what I said about Campbell’s nickname. Though his numbers weren’t great, he did hit 10 batters with pitches in 1903.