Of all the stadiums we saw in 2018, Busch Stadium was the one we knew the best.
Patti and Ron both lived in St. Louis for several years. Patti’s 17 years in St. Louis is the reason she became a Cardinals fan after being apathetic toward baseball for most of her childhood near Peoria, Ill. Ron lived in the Gateway City for nearly eight years. We met in St. Louis in 2012 and got married in St. Louis in 2017.
Patti used to have a 10-game season ticket package and we have sat in just about every spot at Busch Stadium — from the 400 level to the suites to the bleachers.
Nestled in downtown St. Louis right next to a light rail (MetroLink) station you will find Busch Stadium easy to access. There are 21 free park and ride lots along the MetroLink line. Fans coming from the East can jump on the Redbird Express at the St. Clair Square Mall in Fairview Heights. For details, visit the Cardinals MLB site. From various neighborhoods within the city, your best bet is to find a shuttle from a local establishment.
Busch Stadium is extremely easy to get to. The Metro drops you right off at the third-base gate — also known as the Stan Musial Gate because of the large Stan statue there. There are several lots around Busch Stadium, but they can be pricey.
The best option, if you drive, is to utilize the multitude of free shuttles from bars and restaurants in downtown, Soulard (the French Quarter of St. Louis) and South City.
St. Louis and Milwaukee are the only two cities we noticed that offer this service.
This place has my heart. It is where I fell in love with baseball. The atmosphere is part of the reason why. After going to 30 stadiums, I can provide an unbiased opinion based on fact. The fact is that on most occasions, this stadium is pretty full of fans. As with many other stadiums, some of the most fun, vocal fans are in the bleachers.
In other reviews I have mentioned how I like an open stadium, and Busch Stadium is definitely that. There are other stadiums with better views from the concourse, but on each level there are multiple areas where you can still see the game from beyond the seats. Even from the top row, because there are still plenty of fans around, one can still feel engaged with what is happening on the field.
Most teams say they have the best fans in their respective sports. But for the Cardinals, their fan base is literally branded BFIB — Best Fans In Baseball.
St. Louis identifies itself with baseball in a way no other city does. The football Cardinals left. The Rams came and then left after 21 years. The NHL’s Blues are popular, but are just a 50-year-old franchise. The one constant for over 100 years has been the Cardinals.
That makes for a fun environment to see a game with an excellent view of downtown St. Louis and the famous Gateway Arch. Busch Stadium always ranks among the highest in attendance and 2018 was no different with over 3 million fans visiting the stadium.
There are rude fans in every city and I encountered a couple in the two Brewers-Cardinals games we attended, but most Cardinals fans are respectful and enjoy the rivalries.
Nachos are ubiquitous at Busch Stadium as are the more traditional ballpark options of hot dogs, popcorn, Cracker Jack, sunflower seeds and cotton candy. One of the more popular options is the $10 bacon-wrapped hot dog, which is served on locally baked jumbo bun and topped with baked beans, pico de gallo, spicy aioli, and crispy fried onions. .
Busch Stadium has a variety of options and one of the best values at the park is the stir fry, which can be found at the main concourse and the club level. The huge serving comes in a traditional Chinese food carryout box and costs just $16.75 for beef or chicken, only $11.75 if you go for veggies only. It can feed two (or three) or you could just take home leftovers, which is what Patti did after the Sept. 25 game.
There are also healthy options, one of which is to visit the carvery as Patti did at another game. Choose from an assortment of house prepared meats, carved to order on a fresh bun, served with coleslaw, homemade potato chips and a garden salad for $14.50. You serve yourself the sides, so can choose to forgo the chips and coleslaw and just have the salad.
Because of supply and demand, tickets aren’t exactly cheap. The Cardinals know they have a captive audience and take advantage of it, though not as bad as the Yankees, Nationals or Giants gouge their fans. The Cardinals raised most ticket prices by $20 for the Sept. 16 game against the Dodgers once that game got bumped from a 1 p.m. start to a 7 p.m. local start for Sunday Night Baseball.
Tickets aren’t cheap and neither is parking in the lots — though there is a $15 option a block away. Concessions prices are reasonable for a ballpark. While beer prices aren’t as low as you’d expect at a stadium less than a mile from a major brewery for which it’s named, the Cardinals did begin offering $5 Busch cans and drafts this year on the Budweiser Terrace before the game and at the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, located on the second level in left field, before and during the game.
NOTE: As a former employee of the aforementioned brewery, Patti can tell you the beer has to be sold via a third party. The vendor hawking the beer has to add their markup as do the other middle men in the three-tier system.
There are a lot of extras in and around Busch Stadium. Ballpark Village, across from left-center field on Clark Street, houses several restaurants and bars. The AT&T Rooftop, an all-inclusive area, offers views inside Busch Stadium similar to the Wrigley rooftops. Those sitting in the AT&T Rooftop and the adjacent bleacher seats count toward the Busch Stadium admission.
Ballpark Village also includes the Cardinals Hall of Fame with several of the game’s all-time great players fêted. You’ll see Cardinals greats like Mark McGwire, Ted Simmons, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Chris Carpenter, as well as Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Tony LaRussa, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Rogers Hornsby, Ozzie Smith, Whitey Herzog and Musial.
The downtown view, complete with the Gateway Arch, is rivaled by few other stadiums. The aforementioned Budweiser Terrace and Bowtie Bar are great places for casual fans to hang out. There are cabanas on the terrace and the Bowtie is the one place that does not stop serving alcohol after the seventh-inning stretch. If a game goes 12 innings, you can still get a beer at the Bowtie Bar in the 12th inning.
Then there are the giant Bobbleheads scattered throughout the stadium — the most popular being the one of future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina. The catcher’s likeness is located near the Bowtie Bar.
When we first moved to Charlotte, people would often ask us how we liked the Queen City. Our reply was always the same, “We like Charlotte. We loved St. Louis.” And still do.
The Gateway City is such a great place to live. The city is easy to navigate with three interstate highways and two beltways. There is also plenty to do without having to spend a dime. The city, or its suburbs, almost always has some sort of free festival to attend. When we were there, the Webster Groves Jazz Festival was going on and we enjoyed some free music while hanging out with our friends Angela, Bill, Henry and Wendy.
Because of a trust that was set up when St. Louis hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympic Games, nearly everything inside Forest Park is free. Forest Park is a giant park larger than Central Park in New York City. The park is home to the world-class St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum and a large greenhouse called the Jewel Box, which is popular for weddings and photographers. Unless you are reserving the Jewel Box for a wedding, it is free. The zoo and museums also do not have admission fees. Parking at the zoo has a minimal price, but ample street parking can be found in the park.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race and pre-night “glow” were also held while we were in town. This balloon glow is also another park event that costs nothing.
Then there is the Gateway Arch, officially known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Arch has a free museum at its base and taking the elevator to the top costs just $13.
City Museum, located in downtown St. Louis, is not free but is a blast. It is essentially an indoor amusement park and fun for kids and adults.
St. Louis may get a bad rap because of crime that can be found at any major city, but it is one of the best places we have ever lived and we consider it our second home.