With all the stories going on right now — Bonds, Roger Clemens' dry cleaning, Anna Benson's shifting views on fidelity — the question that affects us the most deeply is: What's the new Busch Stadium going to look like? Our beloved Cardinals move into a new stadium this year, and though the big league club doesn't play there until Monday, two minor league Cardinals affiliates played the first game there yesterday.
The park isn't 100 percent completed just yet, but it should be ready to go by Monday. And as much trepidation as we've had about the concept of a new stadium, from almost all accounts, the place looks fantastic.
Deadspin correspondent Jonathan Knisley went to the opener yesterday, and took all kinds of great pictures for us, as well as providing a rundown of the park's goods and bads. They're all after the jump. Looks like Cincinnati's stadium a bit to us ... but we like that stadium too.
A Dazzling Debut For New Busch [MLB.com]
There is truly not a bad seat in the house. I saw from all four levels, infield and outfield and the sight lines are just phenomenal. Everyone said it felt like you were closer to the field. Fans in the upper decks were impressed with their view and like how the incline wasn't nearly as steep in the old Busch. In the lower levels expect a cushioned seat. In the upper levels the seats have a higher back than before and feel more comfortable over the course of a game. In the lower levels I heard some fans complain the cup holders were in your knees. I didn't hear that upstairs, chalk one up for the folks in the cheap seats. The handicapped seating areas are great, too. They are free from other people walking around and bumping into them, with some great views.
I'm a bit of a purist so I don't understand why one would need, for example, lobster Rangoon, Portobello fries, chocolate covered strawberries, carrot cake or roasted pork loin sandwiches at a freaking baseball game. I guess they are catering to the crowd that can afford the third highest ticket prices in the majors.
The good news: Most of the food prices have remained the same. A jumbo dog and a large souvenir soda will run you about $8-9. A lot more concession areas and wider concourses allow for passage while people wait in line. There is a good variety of your more typical ballpark fare, most of which tastes better due to newer facilities. Nachos: very good. Chicken philly: bad, really bad.
The bad news: The beer situation is outrageous. $7.75 for a 16 oz. draft beer. $8.25 for a 24 oz. can beer. What happened to the $9.00 32 oz. Large Beer!?!?! They even have the nerve to give you the 24 oz. beer in the old 32 oz. cup. Bill DeWitt might as well pee in your cup. No more topping off beers, gotta top off those concession revenues. I only saw beer men hawking plastic bottles. In some areas they have bars set up with top shelf mixed drinks.
One bad part of the stadium. More restrooms than before, nicer restrooms than before, much more cramped than before. It's not easy to stand in line inside. Plus, there is a state law in MO which says there must be "potty parity" at sports stadiums, something that caught the team with their pants down, so to speak. So, they must fix the 39 toilet men's advantage in the near future.
The street level plaza in left-center with concessions and vendors is awesome. The standing room only areas in the right field tower provide a great view. The jumbotron and scoreboard have the most incredibly clear pictures I've seen. Although, both were a little hard to read as the setting sun glared off them. The old manual scoreboard is now in place inside the concourse to act as a buffer between the stadium and the eyesore that is highway 64/40, which sits about 15 feet from the stadium. The attention to detail is evident in every part of the stadium, right down to the light fixtures. Lots of ways to get up to the seats: elevators, escalators, stairs and concourses.
This part didn't change, the best fans in baseball in the best baseball town in America. It still has that sea of red effect as you look around the stadium.