On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric at Busch Stadium, version 3.0.
So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.
Busch Stadium - so nice, they named it thrice
The Guide says the following about Busch Stadium, ver 3.0:
It is a lovely place to watch a ballgame, but there is a pervasive sadness lingering just beneath the surface.
The home of the Redbird Faithful. Part of me wanted to dislike Busch Stadium for reasons that made sense at the time. If I am being honest with myself, I find Cardinals fans to be the most personally annoying to me. The smugness. The audacity of the repeated belief that Cardinals fans are “the best, most loyal fans, most knowledgeable fans in baseball.” Most insufferable, more like it. (Third-most sufferable in actuality, first are Giants fans - the perpetual inferiority complex gets old; the second most are Atlanta fans - how are you still that angry after winning a title?!?). And let us never forget in the 2021 season, before their epic winning streak, the Cardinal faithful had largely given up on their team as evidenced by the mostly empty stadium, even when Uncle Albert had returned.
Even with all that shade given, Busch Stadium 3 (“Busch Stadium”) is a delight. I thoroughly enjoyed going to a Dodgers/Cardinals game. But I would be remiss if I did not point out the frankly shocking levels of urban blight that surround the immediate area outside of the stadium. Just remember that the stadium is the oasis and one would be wise to not stray from the oasis unless they were planning to go to the Arch, which is a close enough walk.
In fact, my experiences in St. Louis in 2021 were the genesis of the Guide. Only afterward did I realize I had stumbled into an optimum setup for going to Dodgers/Cardinal games, and it felt mildly selfish to keep it all to myself. Then I realized I could duplicate the process for every stadium and you would have yourself a travelogue. The following is all you need to know about attending a Dodgers/Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
The Five Questions of the Guide:
1. Is it worth going here?
Yes, snark aside about the Cardinals fandom - I would gladly recommend going to Busch Stadium for a Dodgers/Cardinals game.
The word that I keep coming back to when summarizing my experiences at Busch Stadium is “delight.” Truth be told, the only reason one should go to St. Louis is to go to a Dodgers/Cardinals game. The stadium is beautiful and easy to navigate. In my mind, the ticket prices are extremely reasonable depending on where you want to sit.
Honestly, there are not many logistical hurdles to overcome in going to games here. What keeps St. Louis out of the top spot are minor quibbles or things that other stadiums simply do better. The main mark against going to St. Louis for a Dodger game is that, in my view, there was not a lot to experience other than the Dodger game, so if the games are not competitive or if you are someone who has to see a Dodgers victory, you might get less enjoyment than I did.
For your first game, the perks are minimal. You can get a first game certificate that you will have to print out yourself. If you want to go bigger, take a tour of Busch Stadium and spring for the photograph at the end, which is much more appropriate for the occasion. I took a tour of Busch in 2021 and I cannot recommend the experience enough. Also, taking a tour will get you a slight discount to going to the Cardinals Hall of Fame across the street, which does have some neat team memorabilia.
2. How should I get there?
The simplest way to get to St. Louis is by airplane. From there, you can rideshare to St. Louis proper or take a regional train to accomplish the same thing. If you take my advice in Section 3, you will be able to either take the regional train to the ballpark or walk to the stadium (during the day), as evidenced by the map below. With proper planning, you will likely not need a car or need a rideshare to get to and from Busch Stadium.
I would strongly recommend taking a tour of Busch Stadium as you will arrive at the ballpark hours before the gates open and you will get an intimate view of the history of the park. Moreover, it certainly would be worth your time, after the tour, to go across the street into Ballpark Village and head to the Cardinals Museum. Granted, there is not a lot there for Dodgers fans (by definition), but as a baseball fan, you can appreciate the artifacts and exhibits on display showcasing the Cardinals' history.
3. Where should I stay?
Whereas in Chicago, you are almost overwhelmed with choices on where to stay. Here, you basically have three options, but I would say you have one obvious option that has been circled for you, the OYO Hotel St. Louis Downtown City Center. If you feel compelled to walk to and from Busch, if you turn onto Spruce Street, you should be able to see Busch. If you do not see Busch, you either have terrible eyesight or you are looking in the wrong direction.
I have stayed at nice hotels. I have stayed at cheap hotels. I have stayed at hotels that gave me options to do my day job as an attorney. The OYO St. Louis is not really any of those things. This hotel is perfect for Dodger/Cardinal games because it is directly across the street from the train line you would take from the airport, and as such, it is directly across the street from the train line that you would take to and from Busch Stadium. The hotel itself is rather drab, but it is much cheaper than the options closer to the Stadium. There are likely cheaper options further away from Busch, but the further away you go, the more effort it will take to get to Busch.
4. Where should I sit?
In a major way, Truist Park in Atlanta and Busch Stadium have a major similarity in the commercial neighborhood which has been built by the ballpark. Personally, I find Truist Park to be problematic, because of its racist and problematic atmosphere (the chant) combined with the park’s outright gouging of Dodgers fans. Because in theory, I should love that park because of its sightlines, design, and aesthetics. Busch Stadium has no such atmosphere problems and, at last check, ticket prices in 2021 and 2022 are virtually identical. As such, Busch Stadium provides a far superior experience.
Generally, the food at Busch Stadium is fine at best and completely unremarkable at worst. Ideally, you would eat at the team-sanctioned pregame party across the street or at one of the nearby restaurants, like Salt and Smoke. The barbecue was adequate, and the cocktail prices and quality were divine. I purchased access to the team-sanctioned pregame party but ultimately did not go due to health issues that slowed me down during the final day of my stay in St. Louis.
The only other bit of note about the food at Busch is that the souvenir drink cups are far taller and far narrower than elsewhere in the League. From what I can tell the cups hold the same amount of liquid so it’s more of an aesthetic choice than anything. If you collect souvenir cups from around the League, the ones from St. Louis will only stack with ones from St. Louis.
Another neat point to mention regarding ticketing at Busch Stadium is that if you buy from the team directly, they will provide an interactive, 3D animation of your approximate seat view that you can adjust to approximate the view from where you will be sitting. Other teams provide a static image if anything at all.
Here are my recommendations on where to sit at Busch Stadium:
- If you’re on a budget:
The graph below undersells the point. I am talking about Literal. Twenty. Dollar. Tickets. Directly. Above. The. Dodgers. Bullpen.
After the 2021 Wild Card Game, I do not think that anyone would have faulted the Cardinals for raising ticket prices (slightly) when the Dodgers come to town. To their credit, they did not. Normally, I have a lot more to say, but the Cardinals made this section pretty easy.
- If you want to sit somewhere fun:
Unlike other ballparks (Dodger Stadium, Oracle Park, among others) that charge you a king’s ransom to sit at field level, Busch Stadium, for Dodgers games, is quite reasonable. I paid about $85, and that price included a surcharge for John Daly bobblehead night. Normally that ticket would have been around $70.
Cardinal fans are generally as chatty and knowledgeable as their reputation would suggest and if you come to the game in Dodgers’ gear, they will likely banter with you. If you enjoy patter with fans of the opposing team, you will enjoy Busch. Just be polite - I have gone into detail elsewhere on how there is a fine line between being a zealous fan and being an obnoxious jerk.
- You want the sit somewhere that has the best value for your dollar:
If you go to Busch, you need to experience this view from the Redbird Club, which is stunning. Moreover, you can actually spring for exclusive, club-like access to premium seating without paying premium prices.
If you do not need any club-like amenities, then just move up to the upper deck (about $25 in 2022 for the upper deck versus about $70 for tickets in the Redbird Club in 2022). Even during the getaway game, these seats had shade and gave a picturesque view of the game and the surroundings. I fear I might be damning Busch Stadium with faint praise, but it is a lovely place to watch a baseball game.
5. After your trip, is it worth going back?
I have been to three games in St. Louis in September 2021. My rating after visiting Busch Stadium is as follows:
- Hey, that was fun! This trip needs to be a yearly event, if able!
The Dodgers won one and lost two. I was witness to a historic home run, which is now far less historic because Albert Pujols decided to make one last go of it in St. Louis. However, it was a nice moment.
My thoughts of Busch Stadium have only improved over time. Even with my health issues in 2021, I was not planning to return to Busch Stadium for the next couple of years if only due to the fact that I was saving my vacation days to travel to places where I have not personally seen the Dodgers play.
I enjoyed my time in St. Louis so much that even with less than a month to go before games in St. Louis in 2022, I entertained the notion of adding this series to my travel itinerary for far longer than I should have based on the logistical challenge of having not enough time and the costs of airfare being the largest expense by far.
If you are able to go, you will not be disappointed by the charm and hospitality of Busch Stadium, however, I cannot stress enough the oasis-like nature of the area. The rest of St. Louis has clearly seen better days and if you are looking for a thriving downtown or other touristy things to do, you might be disappointed. This reason is the primary reason that Pittsburgh reigns supreme as a baseball town. Based purely on a baseball experience, you would be well served by traveling to Busch Stadium, version 3.0 in St. Louis, Missouri.