Ballpark reviews usually don’t begin with a discussion of the fans that fill the ballpark, but this one does because it’s necessary to capture the essence of Busch Stadium. St. Louis is an awesome baseball town. Fans are passionate about their Cardinals and the game, but this passion does not carry over to poor behavior or disrespect for the opposing players and fans (I was wearing Brewers gear the whole weekend). The fans are overwhelmingly friendly and polite – and they are that way despite summer heat and humidity that can make one just a little edgy.
Now, onto the features of Busch Stadium, which are deserving of their own praise. The setting in downtown St. Louis and just a short walk from the Gateway Arch is terrific. Unlike its predecessor (on basically the same site), the latest version of Busch was designed to provide clear views of downtown and the Arch. The panoramic view from the upper deck behind home plate makes a great photo, but seeing the Arch rise up over center field from field level is doubly impressive.
Externally, Busch is a very attractive park that is dominated by dark red bricks. Highlights include a low profile that allows you to see into the outfield area from the street (north side); a statue garden honoring many Cardinal greats such as Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith (northwest corner); and a large statue of Stan Musial (west side). The only downfall is the lack of a view on the south side due to the tight proximity of Busch to the Interstate.
Internally, the red seats seem to fit more naturally than they do in Cincinnati; the aforementioned view of the arch is a major bonus; and the large scoreboard is informative without being overbearing (and I do love the classic Cardinals clock on top). There are also a lot of nice decorative touches sprinkled throughout the park, such as bronze cardinals on the signs marking each section.
One interesting thing about Busch is that it feels enormous, even for a park with capacity north of 45,000. Some of the higher level seats, especially in the right field corner, seem a really long way from the field.
Overall, Busch Stadium is a beautiful park in a nice location that’s made even better by passionate fans and a family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a quintessential Midwest baseball experience.
A Tip of the Cap
- An attention to detail that makes the park beautiful inside and out
- The sense of history surrounding the park
- The view of the Gateway Arch from many seating areas
- Terrific family-friendly atmosphere and a focus on baseball rather than gimmicks
Swing and a Miss
The big Hardee’s perched on top of the third base line takes away from otherwise terrific aesthetics. It definitely falls on the eyesore side of things. Besides, I’d rather sample traditional ballpark food than eat something from a fast-food joint I could get anytime.
Trip to the Mound
Visit the Gateway Arch and go to the top for a view of Busch Stadium from above. It may be crowded shortly after a game, but it beats trying to make your way through the traffic that bottlenecks just a few blocks away.
Overall Rating: A
- Setting (A): Downtown location offers a great view of, and easy access to, the Gateway Arch.
- External Appearance (A): A classical look with dark red bricks. Good use of team colors and logos in exterior signage.
- Internal Appearance (A-): Busch is a beautiful place to watch baseball. The red seats really stand out without being obnoxious. Slight downgrade for the Hardee’s, which is obnoxious.
- Atmosphere (A+): None better. Busch offers the experience you want when taking the family to a ballgame.