Monday, May 25, 2009

Busch Stadium review

St. Louis is one of those baseball cities that needs a park that matches the level of devotion shown by their fans. Make no mistake about it St. Louis is a Cardinals town. The fans come early, stay late and know what they are talking about when it comes to baseball. You have to love a place where dressing up to go out on the town means putting on your best Albert Pujols jersey. They love baseball and they love their Cardinals. With the new Busch Stadium the people in charge decided to try and tap into this love and create a ballpark worthy of the Cardinals fans.

Unfortunately for the group of us that went to the game we only were able to see two innings before rain delayed and ultimately postponed the game. Therefore I have seen the Brewers-Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, but haven't actually seen a completed game. Still I feel like I can review the stadium based on those 2 innings. If you want an expert's opinion check out Jim Caple's article written back in 2006.

Scalping/Ticket prices - C-
There were a few scalpers available and the one we talked to was very willing to do business with us. This of course had a lot to do with the fact that rain was expected and the game was definitely in doubt. We were able to get what we thought was a good deal by trading up our $35 seats for $90 lower level seats. Of course this was a bad deal in two ways. First the view from the seats was terrible. We could barely see the plate and were only perfectly positioned to see any plays made by the right fielder. The fact that these tickets had a face value of $90 upset me then and still upsets me now. That seems like way too much money to spend on tickets where you can't really even see the game. Below is a good picture of what we could see from our $90 tickets right before the dark rain clouds opened up on us:

Overall the ticket prices in general seem too high. Of course it is hard to analyze the ticket prices when their are 20 categories. You can buy tickets in the Cardinals Club, Champions Club, Legends Club, Infield Field Box, Dugout Box, Casino Queen Party Porch, Infield Terrace Box, etc, etc. I feel like I need a tour guide to help me out just ordering tickets online. And overall I deduct points that the cheapest tickets listed on the website are $16 with most of the tickets being between $30-$60. It seems like Busch Stadium knew that Cardinals fans are a loyal bunch and are willing to pay a premium price for the tickets.

Aesthetic Appeal - A-
I love how there are so many Cardinals logos everywhere you look. I love the fact that their is one scoreboard to keep track of the Cardinals game and another scoreboard that keeps track of all the other games going on in great detail. I love the old-school feel of the park. I love seeing the Arch from behind the outfield.

All in all it is a really well made park that looks great from the inside. The only reason that isn't a A or A+ is because from the outside the park looks fine, but not spectacular. That is a minor fault on otherwise wonderful looking park.

Fans - A
It is hard to find fault in any of the Cardinals fans. They are nice (zero instances of anything rude being said to the many Brewers fans in town), respectful and generally have a great appreciation for the Cardinals and the game of baseball. The Busch Stadium video crew does a great job of cultivating this knowledge by showing past moments of Cardinals history on the scoreboard as well as other great moments in baseball history on the TVs in the concourse. During the 2+ hour rain delay everyone remained calm and very well behaved even as the beer flowed freely among the fans.

Buzz - B
Most of the buzz was due to the approaching storm that ended up postponing the game. I unfortunately can't comment on the buzz for a normal game since everyone was rightly concerned about the rain.

Food - N/A
I had just finished plowing through a BBQ platter an hour before the game and at first pitch was in no mood to try out any of the many options at Busch Stadium. By the end of the rain delay I decided to try out one of their signature dishes the bratzel, but I ended up coming home empty handed because the bratzel was sold out. I can comment that the beer was $7.75, which seems a tad too high considering the fact that it is St. Louis and Budweiser is only a few short miles away.

Fun things to do besides the game - C
I liked to watch the scoreboard to see the Twins-Yankees game or check out the Cardinals highlights from year's past, but besides that there wasn't much else to do. Busch Stadium seemed to be saying that they were a ballpark and by attending you will agree to devout 2-3 hours of your life to baseball. They seemed content letting other ballparks build up bells and whistles for kids and disinterested baseball fans.

Overall impression - B
Busch Stadium felt to me a lot like Turner Field in Atlanta, but with better fans, higher prices and a little bit more pride in the home team. I liked it, but not as much as I thought would. The sightlines were good, the ushers were incredibly friendly and overall I really like Cardinals fans. Still I think that going to Cardinals games would make my wallet a lot lighter and I would have to be careful with what tickets I purchased. There has to good, cheaper seats out there, but for the one game that I went to I felt like we were swindled. Who knew that the better Missouri ballpark was the underdog down I-70?

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