Busch Stadium Review

I had been wanting to go and see a game at this park ever since the day it opened its gates. Well, Friday night I got the chance to see my first game at the new Busch Stadium, and I loved every second of it. What a park! It all starts with the exterior of Busch Stadium. When walking up to the park, I could not help myself from becoming mesmerized by the incredible, brown brick exterior of the stadium. Now I know that when some one says “The brown bricks on that building were amazing,” that doesn’t seem all that exciting. But really, the exterior of this stadium is my favorite of any park I have been too, and that’s saying something.  While still outside the stadium, make sure to go and check out the different statues located along the west side of the park. There is a small area with statues of players such as Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, and many more. The interesting part about these statues is that they are all smaller than the normal statue that you are used to seeing outside of most pro sports stadiums. If you continue walking toward the home plate entrance along the outside of the west side of the park, you will come across a full-sized statue of Stan Musial, which is really cool. After seeing the whole exterior of the stadium, I could not wait to get inside. The concourses here are fairly wide and allow for people to walk around the park comfortably. However, they could be a bit wider. Also, the playing field is not visible while in the concourse, which I was not too happy about. I like to be able to walk around the park in the concourse and still be able to see the game/field. The concourse opens up into an open air walkway behind the left field bleachers where you can get some pretty cool views of the park looking towards home plate. Once in your seat, you can really start to take in the scenery. One of the first things I noticed was just how massive the place is. Other parks like Camden Yards or AT&T Park are more compact and not so huge. I personally don’t have much of a preference, but I thought the size of Busch Stadium was pretty amazing. While in your seat, especially if you are sitting along the first base line or behind home plate, you get an amazing view of the St. Louis skyline beyond the left/center field stands. It is quite the sight. All of the seats at Busch Stadium are Cardinal red, for obvious reasons. The reason I am mentioning this is because sometimes stadiums with red seats don’t look so great. Bush Stadium, however, was able to pull it off and make the red seats a part of the overall attractiveness of the park. In right field, there are two scoreboards that provide you with statistics on the batter, pitcher, and  both teams, as well as other game scores from around the league. The scoreboard on the left also shows replays and video clips. As for the atmosphere at Busch Stadium, I would give it a “B.” St. Louis has always been said to have possibly the best baseball fans in the MLB. They draw over 3 million fans pretty much every year, and on most nights almost the entire stadium is full. The reason I am not giving its atmosphere an “A” is because the fans were not always paying much attention to the game, even during some of the most important times. On numerous occasions, including the 8th inning with the score tied, people were trying to start “the wave,” which I cannot stand. This was by far the biggest flaw that I witnessed throughout the game. Pushing that aside, Busch Stadium very much impressed me. I had high expectations heading into my trip to see the park, and it definitely lived up to those expectations. I would HIGHLY recommend seeing a game here if you are a baseball fan.

To see my reviews of the other 16 stadiums I have been to, click here.

Advertisements

MLB stadium rankings: #16-12

#16. ANGEL STADIUM: Angels

DSC00322

I honestly had no idea what to expect before taking in a game at Angel Stadium. It has always looked like a nice park on TV (at least since it was renovated), but it is also the fourth oldest stadium in the big leagues. I didn’t know if I should expect it to look as old as it is, or if I should expect it to be as nice as it looks on TV. As it turns out, the stadium is kind of in between the two.

Angel Stadium is located right next door to Disneyland and right near some neighborhoods, which is different than most stadiums nowadays. The parking lot is rather large compared to the newer parks, and the architecture on the outside of the stadium is much different than today’s new stadiums.

Right outside the home plate entrance, there is a little plaza where the famous two Angel Helmets are located. In this plaza, there is also a mini baseball diamond that is cemented DSC00312into the ground. At each position around the diamond, the names of the Angels’ opening day starters, dating back to their first year of existence, are listed at that specific position in the cement. This was pretty interesting to look at, and it was also something I had never seen before at a baseball stadium.

When you enter the park, you enter into a concourse that is closed off from the field of play. There are walls on either side of you. On these walls are many murals and pictures that showcase the history of the Angels. On one wall, there was DSC00313a glassed-in display that had the Angels’ World Series trophy and other memorabilia in it. I don’t know of another park that has a World Series trophy permanently on display. From this concourse, you can enter your seating section just like you would at any other park.

There is another concourse that takes you around the entire stadium, and this one is not closed off from the field. Except for when you’re behind home plate, this concourse allows you to constantly see the field of play. What was odd was that there were 2 main level concourses. The one that allows you to see the field is located above/behind the lower level sections, while the closed off concourse is located at ground level and under the grandstand. I was a little disappointed that you cannot see the field while walking behind home plate along the concourse. Often, this is the best location to get a great view of the park at most stadiums.

The food here was nothing to write home about. They have your typical selection of hot dogs, burgers, brats, etc. One unique item on the menu was a Barbecue Dog. I did not order this, but I am assuming it is a hot dog with BBQ sauce.

DSC00331Behind the left field stands, there is an open area with tables where people can sit and eat their food. You do not have a good view of the field from here, however. There is a nice bar located beyond right-center field, but this is completely closed off from the field of play. There are a number of TV’s inside the bar that show the Angels game, as well as other sporting events.

Maybe my favorite part about this stadium was their Budweiser Patio above the right field stands. This is a big, open area for people to stand and watch the game while eating and drinking. There is an outdoor bar located up here as well with TV’s. I would recommend taking a trip up to the Budweiser Patio if you have the chance.

The seating at Angel Stadium was its biggest weakness. My seat was in the second row down the right field line. Maybe it was just that location, but out seats were not angled towards home plate whatsoever. Because of this, I constantly had to have my head turned to the left to see home plate, which led to some major neck-discomfort by the 5th inning. Also, a lot of people down the aisle had to lean forwards to try and see home plate, which blocked the view of anyone to their right. I felt like the whole game I was trying to see around the people to my left, and this got pretty aggravating. With all modern parks, and even the older ones that have been renovated like Wrigley and Fenway, the seats are all angled towards home plate so that you don’t have to constantly have your head turned in one direction. I don’t understand why the Angels couldn’t figure this out.

As for the appearance of Angel Stadium, it is definitely an attractive park. The rock formation in left-center with the water falls/fountains is a very nice touch and is a unique feature to the park.

Behind the left field stands, there is a small video screen that shows videos/replays and statistics throughout the game. The main scoreboard is in right field, which shows those same things, plus some more statistics because it is larger and has more space.

DSC00334One thing that I found interesting both here and at Dodger Stadium were the sky boxes. At both stadiums, there is only one level of sky boxes. Nowadays, most parks have at least two levels of boxes, if not more. Seeing as how Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium are located in L.A. with a ton of celebrities, I thought there would be a lot more sky boxes than there really are.

The atmosphere at Angel Stadium was not great. I saw the Cubs play the Angels, and the Cubs fans in attendance were just as loud as the Angels fans, which is saying something given the Angels to Cubs fans ratio. The fans here attempted the wave a number of times, and there were beach balls bouncing around the whole game. I don’t understand why people can’t just watch the game. Isn’t that why they came in the first place?

While I wouldn’t classify this as a top-notch stadium, this is a very nice park, except for the seating arrangements. If you enjoy in-game entertainment, then this is a place for you.

#15. GREAT AMERICAN BALLPARK: Reds

GABP_Pan9

I have actually been here on 2 different trips, so I saw more of this park than I did most others. The one thing that immediately stood out to me with the stadium is that it looked a little “cheap.” It seemed as though more money could have been put into this place. With it being built quite recently (2003), one would expect it to be a bit bigger and more “modern” than it really is. Aside from that, this is still a pretty nice place. The concourses are fairly wide, allowing enough room for people to walk comfortably around the park. Also, while walking along the concourse, the playing field is visible to you at all times, which is nice. The Ohio River runs right behind the right field stands, and this helps to add some more attractiveness to the backdrop of the outfield. The scoreboard here is rather large and easy to read. That big, black building located in center field is a party/event room that people can rent out for games, for those who are curious. Maybe the most unique feature about this stadium is that there is a large gap cut out into the middle of the upper deck behind the 3rd base line. To this day, I am still not sure why it is there. Overall, this is a very attractive stadium, and one I would recommend to those who want to take a cheap baseball road-trip.

#14. NATIONALS PARK: Nationals

This is one of the newer parks in the MLB. It opened in 2008 when the Nationals took on the Braves for the opening game of the season. This park definitely has a “modern” feel to it. In a way, it is somewhat similar to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati in that it looks “cheaper” than most of the newer parks around baseball. Don’t get me wrong, this is a really nice park, but I think more could have been done to make this an even better park. When sitting in the upper deck along the right field foul line, you can see the U.S. Capital building in the distance beyond the left field stands. As for the area surrounding the park, there isn’t much to it. In fact, when driving up to the stadium, it is hard to tell that you are looking at Nationals Park. The outside of the stadium looks just like most of the buildings that surround it. It is all white cement. Once inside the park, the concourses are very wide and easy to maneuver. When walking around the concourse, the field of play is always visible. You will notice that I appreciate when this is the case. The seating is great as well. It seemed as though no matter where you sat, you had a good view of home plate. The biggest downside to Nationals Park was the service. The people serving the food there had some of the worst attitudes I have seen. Overall, this is a nice park.

#13. PROGRESSIVE FIELD (formerly Jacobs Field): Indians

Prior to ever seeing a game here, this was the one park that I most wanted to see (besides Fenway). I had a lot of expectations of Progressive Field before going there, and for the most part, the stadium lived up to them. First of all, before even entering the park, make sure to check out some of the restaurants/bars that are in the area surrounding the park. There are a handful of good places to eat before or after the game. Inside the park, the scenery is fantastic. The stadium itself is quite attractive, but to make it even better, the Cleveland skyline is visible in the background. To make things clear, I’m not promoting the Cleveland skyline. I’m just saying that it helps add the to scenery inside the park. As for overall attractiveness, Progressive Field has to be in the top 10 in baseball. There were two things in particular that I did not like about this park. The first being that the playing field is not visible while walking around the concourse. For whatever reason, the concourse is closed in and doesn’t allow you to continue watching the game while out of your seat. The second thing that I didn’t like was that the second level of seats down the left field line consisted of all sky-boxes. To me, that’s not a good way to take in a baseball game. Having made those two complaints, this is still a great park. If you’re ever in Cleveland, definitely make it a point to see an Indians game.

#12. MINUTE MAID PARK: Astros

Minute Maid Park was built on the grounds of Houston’s old Union Station. The largest entrance into the park actually takes you into the old Union Station, and this is a pretty cool room to see for yourself. The outside of Minute Maid looks more like a very large warehouse than it does a baseball stadium. Just outside the park, there is a cool little area set up in the shape of an infield where the statues of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are located. The statues are placed in such a way that Biggio is throwing to Bagwell from second base over to first base. It’s pretty unique. The inside of the park is pretty cool as well. The feature that stands out the most when you are sitting in your seat are the train tracks that are located behind/above the left field wall. Each time that the Astros score a run, a small train (with a conductor) rides along the tracks honking its horn. Another very odd characteristic of this park is the little hill located in center field just past the warning track. This was put in place to mimic the old hill that was present at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. I personally think that this was not a good idea by the Astros because  of the possible injuries that this could create. One very good feature of Minute Maid Park is that the seats are all pretty close to the field. It’s not as “spread out” as some other parks. Also, the playing field is always visible from the concourses. After each game, weather permitting, the roof on the stadium opens up, or closes, to show the fans just how that works. One other thing that I want to mention is that their salted pretzels and lemonade are definitely worth purchasing. This is a very nice park.

For 11-6, click here.

MLB stadium rankings: #22-17

It is my goal to make it to every stadium in Major League Baseball, and so far I have been to 22 of them. Here, I have ranked all of the stadiums I have been to in order of my least favorite, to my favorite. When ranking the stadiums, I take all things into account from appearance, atmosphere, seating, food, etc.

#22. MILWAUKEE COUNTY STADIUM: Braves/Brewers

As we all know, this stadium is now long gone, thanks to Miller Park. When County Stadium was still around, however, there wasn’t much to it to write home about. It was by no means an attractive stadium, and had very little excitement surrounding it. I guess the most “unique” thing about it was Bernie’s slide in the outfield. One thing that this stadium had that all new parks are without is some history. Some of baseball’s greatest players played in games at Milwaukee County Stadium. Hank Aaron called it “home” for sometime. Others such as Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, etc. played in games here as well. However, with all of that considered, Milwaukee County Stadium finds itself last on my list.

#21. ROGERS CENTRE: Blue Jays

First off, no baseball stadium should have its name end in “Centre/Center.” Second of all, in today’s day in age, no MLB team should have to play on artificial turf anymore. With that said, Rogers Centre in Toronto, home of the Blue Jays, is quite an interesting place. The first thing I noticed when I entered the building was that their concourses were all carpeted. I had never seen that before at a baseball stadium. Another odd thing about this stadium is that the seats along the left and right field lines retract to make more room for the Canadian Football League games that are played there. Also, there is a hotel located in center field at Rogers Centre. People staying there can look right out there windows onto the field, or they can step out onto the balcony and watch the game. As for the atmosphere, this place can get pretty loud when the roof is closed. The fans that do show up get pretty into the game. Speaking of the roof, it is 31 stories high and was the first fully retractable roof in the world. All in all, Rogers Centre should not play host to baseball games.

#20. OLD BUSCH STADIUM: Cardinals

Even though I have this so low on my list, I really did enjoy being at the old Busch Stadium. It was built during the middle of the “bowl” era, along with Three Rivers Stadium, Veterans Stadium, and Fulton County Stadium. One cool thing about this place was that, being in St. Louis with the St. Louis Arch, they created mini arches along the top of the stadium, as you can see in the picture. I would have to bet that a lot of people who attended a game here never realized the significance of that, or never even noticed the arches. The atmosphere at old Busch Stadium was pretty intense for each game. When I was there, I was there to see the Cubs take on the Cardinals. The only other atmosphere that I have seen get as hostile as this one when the Cubs were in town is Miller Park, but I’ll get to that later. Another thing that I thought was unique was that the walkways to get from one level to the next wrapped around the outside of the stadium. As you would walk up/down these walkways, you could look right out onto the street and the city. This was not a bad place to see a game.

#19. U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (formerly Comiskey Park): White Sox

Prior to this past weekend, I hadn’t been to the Cell in almost 10 years or so. During that gap in time, U.S. Cellular Field endured some renovation projects that really did make the park a lot nicer to look at. Before going down to the game this weekend, I didn’t think very highly of the park based on what I had seen when I was there in the past. Now, I have some new and similar opinions compared to the ones that I had before this past weekend.

The outside of the stadium looks pretty cool. I’m not a huge fan of concrete exteriors, but it doesn’t look all that bad on the Cell. Walking up to the stadium from the east you get a cool view of the park from beyond the left field bleachers. You’re also walking over the Dan Ryan expressway at the same time. When you get up to the stadium on the north side of the park, there is a really cool Chicago sports store that sells merchandise for the Sox, Cubs, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. I would recommend checking this place out. On the second floor of the store, you can actually have your game ticket scanned and then walk over a bridge (over 35th street) and into the park. The store and stadium are connected by this walkway/bridge.

My seat was in the upper deck for this game. Apparently at U.S. Cellular Field, if your seat is not in the first level, you are not allowed to walk around the park on the main level. You are restricted to whichever level your seat is on. If you have read any of my past write-ups on MLB stadiums, you know by now that one of my favorite things to do is walk around each park that I go to. Well, since I was restricted this past weekend to only the upper level of the park, I couldn’t walk around the whole stadium. This really hacked me off. No other park in baseball that I have been to (17 of them) has had this “rule.” So since I wasn’t able to walk around the lower level of the park, I got a good look at the upper level concourse.

The concourse on the upper level was actually pretty spacious, considering the stadium was built in 1991. The playing field is not visible while walking around the concourse, but that’s the way that every upper deck in baseball is. Along the field-side of the concourse, the wall was lined with old pictures from the White Sox’ history. This was a nice touch and provided something interesting to look at/read while walking along the concourse. The food seemed to be pretty decent. I had a pulled pork sandwich, which wasn’t great nor bad.

The playing field itself is not the most attractive in baseball, but it’s not terrible either. When the park was first built, the big “wall” behind the outfield stands used to be made up of white pillars. Since the renovations were done on the park, those pillars holding up the advertisements have now been painted black, which looks a lot better than the white did. The original seats that were put into the park were blue, but have since been switched to a dark green color. Again, the dark green looks a lot better than the blue. Also, a small deck/patio area was built above and behind the left field bleachers during renovations. They call it the “Fundamentals” area where kids can get some quick baseball tips and lessons I believe. Don’t quote me on that. The scoreboard in dead center field is nothing great. They carried over from the old Comiskey Park the lollipop-looking circles that sit atop the scoreboard. Aside from that, there’s nothing too interesting about it. The screen on the scoreboard that shows replays and videos is pretty small in comparison to other parks. This screen also provides statistics about each player during the game, and give the score of the game obviously. Behind the right field bleachers is another screen that gives more statistics as well as the batting order for each team. Just beyond the center field wall there is a black platform that is covered in green ivy which looks pretty nice. It acts as the batter’s eye.

Going back outside the park, the surrounding area is a lot nicer and safer than what it used to be. There is about a 3-4 block perimeter surrounding the park that has been nicely redone and is now much safer to walk around than it used to be. Just don’t stray too far outside that area…

That’s pretty much all I can write about regarding this park for now. Maybe in the future I’ll get to access the lower level.

#18. CHASE FIELD: Diamondbacks

I never actually saw a game here, but I did get to see the stadium. From the outside, this place looks like a huge airplane hangar. You don’t realize it’s a baseball stadium until you’re close enough to read the signs on the side of the stadium. Once you’re inside, you can tell how large this place actually is. The upper deck here is one of the bigger upper decks I have seen, in terms of the number of rows that it has. The scoreboard in center field is pretty cool. It has a very nice HD screen that makes it easy for everyone to read. Also, a swimming pool is located in right-center field that fans can swim in and hangout at during the game. I’m pretty sure you must have purchased a specific ticket to be able to do that. The most unique feature of Chase Field has to be the walkway/porch that sits right below the scoreboard. This area actually hangs over the warning-track and has caused some odd ricochets in the past that have led to multiple inside-the-park home runs. I definitely want to go back to Chase Field to see a game.

#17. DODGER STADIUM: Dodgers

DSC00265

It is the third oldest park in the big leagues and has quite a bit of history to go along with it. For those reasons, I really wanted to see a game at Dodger Stadium. After finally doing so, I must say that this is one of the more unique parks in baseball because of its location.

Known as “Chavez Ravine,” Dodger Stadium is just that. The stadium sits in a ravine, which makes hard to even tell that their is a baseball stadium at that site. As you are approaching the gates to the parking lot, you would never know that their is a baseball stadium sitting on the other side of the hill/mountain to your left. Then once you get into the parking lot, you can finally see the lights and part of the exterior of the stadium. Speaking of the parking lot, I have never seen a larger parking lot at an MLB stadium than at Dodger Stadium.

Because the stadium is built into a mountain, there really isn’t much of an exterior to the stadium like there is at all modern parks.

The first really odd thing about this park that I noticed was the location of its entrances. When I entered the park, I entered through what would be the home plate entrance at most parks. Here, however, that same entrance takes you straight into the upper deck behind DSC00261home plate. I have never seen a park like this in that you can enter the stadium on its highest level. Just outside the entrance on this level, all of the Dodgers’ retired numbers are placed along the sidewalk with little write-ups about the player who wore that specific number. This was pretty cool.

Once inside the park, in my case the upper deck, you get an immediate great view of the field. You also realize just how high up you are. The upper deck behind home plate at Dodger Stadium is one of the highest and steepest upper decks in baseball. It reminded me a lot of the upper deck at U.S. Cellular Field before they renovated it. Because my seat was on the loge (second) level, I had to take an elevator down to that section of the park.

Because my seat was on the second level of the stadium, I was not allowed to go down to the first level. This kind of irritated me, but I can understand their reasoning. However, I think that regardless of where your seat is, you should still have access to the entire park. Also, the bleacher sections here are separated from the rest of the stadium and you must have a ticket to enter the outfield sections.

DSC00277The concourse on the second level was not horrible, but not great. Since the park was built in the early 60’s, the walkways were a little narrow and not very attractive. I felt like I was looking at a lot of grey concrete. The good part about the concourse was that the field was always in plain view. I like being able to walk around the park and still see the game.

The food at Dodger Stadium was mediocre I thought. Their “Dodger Dogs” were good, but overrated. There weren’t really any foods that jumped out at me or caught my eye while looking over the available options. Some parks, like San Diego, have a ton of choices and unique options.

One of the best features of Dodger Stadium was located in the concourse. Behind most of the seating sections there were counter tops set up for people to stand, eat their food, and watch the game. I took advantage of this and ate my Dodger Dog here. I love being able to get food and go stand somewhere to watch the game while eating.

The seating here was another one of the stadium’s best features. All seats, at least in the second level, were angled toward home plate so that you didn’t have to have your head turned the whole time. Also, the sections only consisted of about 8-10 seats per row, which was nice. That way if you have to get up in the middle of the game, you don’t have to walk through many people to get to the aisle.

In your seat while panning over the field and outfield, you’ll notice that there aren’t too many advertisements. This was a big plus with me as I hate when stadiums are just loaded with ads. The outfield doesn’t have much going on. There are two sections of outfield seating, DSC00292both separate from the rest of the stadium, and both separated from one another by the batter’s eye in center field. There is a large video screen behind both outfield sections that provide replays and statistics throughout the game. Basically, nothing really unique going on out there.

Behind the outfield and off in the distance, you can clearly see the mountains. This helps add some scenery to the park, and really does help make the stadium more attractive.

One of two downsides to this park while sitting in your seat was the batter’s eye itself. At Dodger Stadium, the batter’s eye is really just some black “walls” and mesh, along with a big speaker tower. Other stadiums were able to make their batter’s eye fit in with the rest of the park, but not here. All of that black in center field is just ugly.

The other downside that briefly mentioned is the speaker system. All of the sound that you hear during the game (songs, the PA, etc.) come from that one speaker tower in center field. While this part wasn’t exactly bad, the volume was bad. I thought that the songs and all of that stuff were a little loud for a baseball game. But that’s just me.

The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium was pretty weak. The park was only about half full, and the fans weren’t really that into the game. They did the wave a few times, and I noticed a number of beach balls bouncing around the stands, a couple of which made their way onto the field.

Taking everything into consideration, this was not a bad park, given its age. It could use some upgrades, especially along the concourse, but it was really a nice park. Because it is Dodger Stadium, and because of its location and history, I would recommend seeing a game here if you’re a baseball fan. Non-baseball fans may not enjoy it quite as much.

For 16-12, click here.