Behind the Scenes: Busch Stadium

| Scene Reporter

Visitors who pay for a tour of Busch stadium can enter the radio broadcast room, which offers a view of the St. Louis skyline (shown). Other tour highlights include going into the Champions Club and the dugout.

Visitors who pay for a tour of Busch stadium can enter the radio broadcast room, which offers a view of the St. Louis skyline (shown). Other tour highlights include going into the Champions Club and the dugout.

Unlike Fenway Park, with its many seats behind giant green columns; Wrigley Field, forever enshrouded by a thick cloud of sadness; or Yankee Stadium, baseball’s equivalent of the Death Star, St. Louis’ Busch Stadium may be Major League Baseball’s finest establishment. There isn’t a bad seat in the house; the crowd is always jovially inebriated, and Busch Stadium maintains the correct balance between modern-day comforts (giant flat-screen televisions are scattered throughout the park) and a traditional ballpark feel (very few seats are cushioned). Busch Stadium is an integral part of St. Louis’ identity as a baseball town.

Thanks to multiple tours offered daily from Gate 5, a mere $10 will get you a behind-the-scenes look at Busch Stadium. Throughout the tour, an usher-turned-tour-guide offers insider information, such as the best place in the stadium to get a beer—the Cardinals Left Field Porch—and makes jokes at the expense of the two Cubs fans who decided to proclaim their baseball allegiance on enemy territory (they don’t know what championship trophies look like, and it’s funny).

Batting practice usually starts an hour before the game, and the Left Field Porch is the perfect place to hang out and grab a drink while the Cards are warming up. And, with commentators Al Hrabosky, Dan McLaughlin and Rick Horton broadcasting their pregame interviews right across from the bar, the Left Field Porch is where one is most likely to snag Pujols’ autograph.

From the Left Field Porch, the tour proceeds through various elevators, over the bridge at Gate 3, whose structure pays homage to Eads bridge, past the giant statue of Cards great Stan “The Man” Musial and into the Champions Club. In this exclusive section, more than 30 flat screen televisions broadcast every MLB game, an all-inclusive multi-course buffet is available and air conditioning mercifully makes summer day games endurable. The Club’s glossy decor features plush leather and framed pictures of championship rings (again, unfamiliar to the Cubs fans). Its tickets range from $85-$170.

If the Champions Club is slightly outside a student’s budget, consider tickets for the Redbird Club. Giant vintage baseball cards of past Cardinal greats deck the bright green walls here. Included is a sole member of the St. Louis Browns—the legendary Satchel Paige, who is believed to have pitched professionally well into his 60s.

The radio broadcast room, located right above home plate, commands the best view of the field in the entire park. Here, some member of the tour group will mostly likely answer nearly all of the guide’s baseball trivia, but ignore that precocious 4-year-old reciting a litany of retired numbers and concentrate on the view.

After meandering through hallways navigable only by the guide, the tour highlight arrives: a walk onto the field itself. The guides permit lucky groups to sit in the Cardinals dugout. The amount of graffiti carved into the benches is amazing. Matt Holliday was there in 2010. The price of the tour is worth just walking along the warning track, looking at the Arch glittering off in the distance and imagining what life could have been like if you hadn’t quit little league.

With 10 World Series championships under their belt, the St. Louis Cardinals are second only to the Yankees. But, as the guide enthusiastically insisted, the Cards have beaten the Yankees three of the five times they’ve faced them in the World Series. By his math, this record makes them the true MLB Champions. The weather is improving daily, so check out the home of these champions before the oppressive St. Louis summer arrives!

Specific tour information can be found at http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com/stl/ballpark/tours/index.jsp

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