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Ballpark Profile: Busch Stadium

Ballpark Profile: Busch Stadium
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Name: Busch Stadium

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Opened: 10 April 2006

Architect: HOK Sport

Cost: $365 Million

Capacity: 43,975 (2006)
                45,494 (present)

Surface: Kentucky bluegrass

This is going to be a tricky one to write. There are people who love Busch Stadium. They can (rightly) point out to everything that it does almost flawlessly. And there are people who . . . well, maybe not hate Busch, but certainly don't like it. They will point to the fact that it is somewhat bland, architecturally lazy, certainly derivative (sometimes in almost shockingly literal fashion).

And, you know what? They're both right.

If you've read any number of these ballpark profiles, by now you're pretty familiar with what (in our estimation) makes a good ballpark. (This list is something that has developed out of writing these profiles; I did not go into this project with a checklist, but have rather developed one along the way.)

Open-air, baseball-only, natural grass. Integrated with its city, both geographically and architecturally. Interesting elements with regard to the playing field and fan experience -- but without being gimmicky. Visually appealing from both within and without. Good (locally-inspired) food.

[I'll just add again that almost EVERY SINGLE minor league ballpark I know checks every one of these boxes. Any time you can get to a minor league game, DO IT.]

Busch Stadium, too, checks all the boxes. But that's just it: it feels like the architects and ballclub had a checklist and intentionally checked every box. It feels . . . formulaic. 

It's an attractive brick-and-exposed-steel façade, a textbook retro gem ballpark.

It's situated right downtown (a good thing!) with good access to transportation and plenty of parking, without being surrounded by a sea of parking lots (yay)!

The outfield view shows a beautiful downtown skyline that includes the beautiful Old Courthouse (looks like a State Capitol dome) and, of course, the iconic St Louis arch. (Hell, I used Busch Stadium as the platonic ideal of what the Nationals could have done with Nationals Park in D.C.)

There's not really a bad seat in the house, and there's not an excess of non-baseball amusements. This is St. Louis. These are the (self-described) best baseball fans in the world. They don't need a lot of bells and whistles, just a nice place to watch a ballgame.

And they've certainly got it.

The brick façade, while screaming "traditional ballpark" does fit in nicely with the neighboring buildings.

(The fact that many of these buildings were built after Busch Stadium notwithstanding.)

St. Louis and the Cardinals have gone one step further with the establishment of the "Ballpark Village" TM amusement area out past left field. Totally manufactured and contrived, this is an "entertainment district" reminiscent of Eutaw Street near Camden Yards, and the neighborhoods surrounding Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. 

In fact, they've built a multi-story restaurant/museum with ticketed "rooftop" seats. I'm not saying they're emulating their ballpark after that of their arch-rival Cubs, just sayin'.

The thing is?

It all works. Busch Stadium doesn't feel like a mall-park. It feels like a true ballpark. The fans, whom I described above as the "self-proclaimed best fans in baseball" may, in fact, be the best fans in baseball. (I'd personally give the edge to their cross-state rival Royals fans.)

Busch Stadium is a great place to see a ballgame. And, odds are, you're going to see a great game, as the Cardinals are one of those perennially-good teams. It's like one of those too-perfect couples that everyone knows: they're nice, they're beautiful, they seem happy, they're kind and generous, and everyone likes them.  There must be something wrong, right?

Not always.

Sometimes things are just really, really good. Busch Stadium is one of those things. Try as you might to say something negative, there's really nothing there to criticize.

Have your own thoughts on Busch? Comment below for a chance to win a FREE PRINT from Ballpark Blueprints.

7 comments

  • Jan : October 13, 2020

    The film “Field of Dreams” comes to mind hearing you describe Busch Stadium. It may be considered a simple, classic park, but it is in-fact a great place to sit back & enjoy a game of baseball. I’m the end it’s not the bells & whistles that remind you of a place but the basics of what brought you there in the first place, the love of the game. The blueprints especially this one, really remind me of this, thanks!

  • Doug: October 13, 2020

    Made a weekend trip to St. Louis with my son and grandson last season. We sat behind the plate Friday night to enjoy the city view, Saturday afternoon on the rooftop seats, and Sunday afternoon on the third baseline. The park reminds me of PNC Park with the views and a bit of Wrigley Field with the rooftop seats. All in all, a nice setup of a park with a storied franchise. Excellent recap and thank you for allowing me to reminisce on a grand trip.

  • Dan H: October 13, 2020

    My wife and I lived in St. Louis for two years from 2014-2016. We went to Busch Stadium probably 10-15 times together and with family when they visited and enjoyed our experiences there. Ballpark Village is a great addition to the area around the stadium. I’ve been to 20+ stadiums now and Busch is top notch all the way around. I went to the old Busch Stadium while visiting my sister at St. Louis University for a few games and got to enjoy that classic experience but the new Busch Stadium his hands down on the list of best current parks. Would love to have this up in our home to remind us our great time in STL!

  • Codasco: October 13, 2020

    This is accurate. I grew up going to games at Busch Stadium II and while the open view to CF is nice, III lacks II’s roar. I still remember going to games and feeling like II was rocking. III struggles to get that loud and the fans feel much more distant from the team.

    III cannot be fully evaluated without considering the impacts of Ballpark Village and One Cardinal Way, a luxury high-rise apartment building. While the pictures look nice, the development has squeezed out a number of small businesses near and dear to Cards’ nation, including Shannon and Hrbaosky’s. Patio O’s lives on…for now.

  • Chris N: October 13, 2020
    Baseball heaven on earth done by Ballpark Blueprints leaves no detail unscathed!!!
  • Matthew Shekell: October 13, 2020

    This print would look awesome in my south St. Louis home, just sayin’!

  • Steve Cecil: October 13, 2020

    Busch looks “almost” perfect. Like they have taken an Amazon kit of make your own ballpark. What truly make it stand out? It checks all the boxes, but then what?

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