Busch Stadium is home to the St. Louis Cardinals, the winners of 19 NL Pennants and champions of 11 World Series titles – the highest in the National League and the second most in the MLB after the Yankees. Popularly called “New Busch Stadium,” it is the 10th largest ballpark in the major league. Busch Stadium followed the footsteps of Oriole Park at Camden Yards to become a retro-classic ballpark. It was the first MLB ballpark solely funded by a franchise since the San Francisco Giants opened Oracle Park in 1997.
The St. Louis Cardinals sought a new baseball stadium in 1995. However, the lack of funding for a new ballpark led them to stay at Busch Memorial Stadium. In 2001, the Missouri state government agreed to build a new ballpark in St. Louis. However, the public financing of the project failed to get approval. When the Cardinals considered a move to Madison, Illinois, the St. Louis administration offered a funding package to placate them.
The construction of Busch Stadium was financed partly by the Cardinals and the rest by private bonds, state advances, and bank loans to be repaid by the franchise. The total cost was $365 million for the stadium and another estimated $300 million to develop the St. Louis Ballpark Village. However, the final cost was $344.8 million with a saving of $20.2 million. Jim Chibnall, the lead designer of the ballpark, also helmed the construction of Progressive Field and Sydney Olympic Stadium, among many other projects.
When opened on April 4, 2006, with a minor league game, Busch Stadium had 37,962 seats and standing space for 2,751. The stadium’s left-field seats were not completed though the Memphis Redbirds played the Springfield Cardinals. The game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros on May 29, 2006, was the first game played in the full-strength New Busch Stadium. It had then a total capacity for 43,975 seats and 2,886 standing-room tickets. Over the years it has gone up to 45,494 seats and standing tickets for 2,020.
Design and Features
Busch Stadium has a natural grass turf, 3,706 club seats, and 61 suites. Fans call it New Busch Stadium because the St. Louis Cardinals’ earlier homes Sportsman’s Park and Busch Memorial Stadium also officially carried the name Busch Stadium. The 4,800-sq-feet scoreboard installed in 2016 is bigger than that of Wrigley Field. There are also boards in the bullpen, on the ring, and for pitch count display. The right field board has a 3,200-square-feet board.
Unlike the former stadium, which was enclosed on all sides in a “cookie-cutter” format identical to the Riverfront, Veterans, Three Rivers, and Atlanta-Fulton County stadiums, the current stadium is similar to many other Populous-built “retro-classic” stadiums. It, too, provides a panoramic view of the downtown skyline. Gate 3 on the stadium’s west side is the most popular entry point. There is a structure hanging over it resembling St. Louis’ iconic Eads Bridge. Historical plaques behind the home plate display logos of the Cardinals.
St. Louis Ballpark Village
After the construction of New Busch Stadium, authorities demolished Busch Memorial Stadium and built St. Louis Ballpark Village. Now a premier dining and entertainment district in Missouri, it was the first fully-integrated mixed-use sports and entertainment complex in the United States. Divided into three phases, the first one saw the opening of a $100 million, 120,000-sq-feet in March 2014. It houses the Midwest’s largest indoor video screen and a range of restaurants, bars, and clubs. There are five platforms to host live performances. The retractable roof covering the live-performance area is the biggest such roof in the world. It also has an outdoor festival space.
The second phase inaugurated in 2021 set up a hi-tech commercial neighborhood with an 8-story hotel of 216 rooms and a 29-story residential tower. The new additions spread over 500,000 square feet also have a 10-story office building and commercial space for retail and dining facilities in a 3-story building. St. Louis Ballpark Village is a prime gathering destination for baseball fans coming to watch games at Busch Stadium.
Features and Concessions
Food and drink choices at the stadium include everything from traditional ballpark fares, such as bratwurst, nachos, and peanuts to St Louis-area classics, including pork steak sandwiches and toasted ravioli. Budweiser owns the stadium’s beer contract. But nearby all specialty breweries, such as Saint Louis Brewery, Urban Chestnut, and 4 Hands, are available. Tickets for various all-inclusive zones are sold on a game-by-game basis. The Champions Club and Cardinals Club represent the most opulent part of Busch Stadium. For those looking for a casual experience, there is the Fan Zone. The Scoreboard Patio is the dedicated place for families to experience baseball.
A bronze statue of Cardinals legend Stan “The Man” Musial stands outside Gate 3’s entrance. Other Cardinals’ monuments that used to surround Busch Memorial Stadium are now on display outside the Cardinals’ team shop on the intersection of Clark and 8th Avenues.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- The first game at Busch Stadium was an exhibition game between two minor league teams on April 4, 2006. The Springfield Cardinals notched up a 5-3 victory against the Memphis Redbirds.
- On April 10, 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 in the first MLB game in the ballpark.
- The Cardinals won the World Series title, NL Pennant, and Central Division title during the Busch Stadium’s inaugural season. The home team also won the 2011 World Series, 2011 and 2013 NL Pennants, and Central Division titles in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2019.
- The baseball stadium has a roofed area for kids named the U.S. Cellular Family Pavilion. It has a speed-pitch and a batting cage. There is also a dedicated toddler baseball area.
- Brewing-giant Anheuser-Busch has the ballpark’s naming rights cemented in a 20-year deal in 2004. When league rules didn’t allow to call it Budweiser Stadium, Anheuser-Busch named it after company president August Busch.
- The inaugural session had all sold-out home games at Busch Stadium. However, the ballpark hosted the largest crowd on May 12, 2019, when the Cardinals played the Pirates.
- In 2013, the ballpark was the venue for nine postseason games. The Cardinals won all their NL home games.
- The 2013 World Series saw Allen Craig of the Cardinals getting a home run awarded for obstruction by Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox.
- Busch Stadium was the venue for the 2009 MLB All-Star Game.
- The 2011 World Series witnessed David Freese hit a game-tying triple to bring the Cardinals back into competition from a 5-8 deficit. He went on to hit a match-winning home run.
- On June 21, 2019, the Cardinals’ great Albert Pujols returned to Busch Stadium with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Two days later, he scored a home run against his former team.
- Between 2011 and 2015, the Cardinals made five postseason appearances. The team holds the record of having the most playoff games in the MLB.
- Soccer: Busch Stadium is the premier soccer venue in St. Louis too. It has hosted several games involving top European clubs, such as Manchester City, Roma, Liverpool, and Chelsea, and South American soccer powers, such as Argentina.
- Hockey: It was the venue for the 2017 NHL Winter Classic and the 2019 Stanley Cup.
- College Football: Starting from 2013, the ballpark continues to host college football games.
- Concerts: The first concert at Busch Stadium goes back to June 7, 2008. Paul McCartney performed on August 13, 2016.