Chronological Tour: Stop 34

Evoking the Arch

The distinct exterior of Busch Stadium, Jul-2004.

Parabolic arches in the roof mimic the Gateway Arch.

A look at the field, the renovated center-field area, and the Arch beyond it.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
For the last 13 seasons of its use (1953 to early 1966), Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was officially known as Busch Stadium, in honor of the club’s owner, August A. “Gussie” Busch.

The true story was that Busch wanted to call that park, and the new multipurpose facility that followed it, Budweiser Stadium, but he was turned down by Major League Baseball. Naturally, Anheuser-Busch started marketing a new brand of beer called Busch shortly after the owner’s name got on the ballpark. (At the turn of the century, Peter Coors has his name, and his beer’s, on a ballpark in Denver, and Milwaukee now has Miller Park. Times change, I suppose.)

With both baseball and football being played here for over 20 years, Busch Stadium – officially Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium – sported an artificial turf surface. Significant renovations in the mid-1990s, after a new football-only dome was built down the road, resulted in the introduction of grass as well as other park improvements. Seats were removed from the upper deck in dead center field to accommodate pavilions commemorating the Cardinals’ World Series championships and retired numbers as well as manually operated scoreboards for the current game and up to 16 others.

Left unchanged were the mini-arches mimicking the nearby Gateway Arch, the parabolic symbol of the nation’s expansion. St. Louis, one of the larger cities on the Mississippi, has long been called “the Gateway to the West”.

However, these all disappeared after the 2005 season. In late 2001 came word that the City of St. Louis had approved the construction of a new ballpark for its beloved Cardinals, a place even more befitting the club with arguably the best fans in the game. Ground was broken in 2004 for the new park, which is between Spruce and Poplar streets, just south of this facility and right next to the Route 40 expressway that also carries I-64.

Cardinals fans were ambivalent about the loss of Busch Stadium. It predated some of the cookie-cutter parks that have already been replaced, such as Three Rivers, the Vet, and Riverfront. However, the highest seats at Busch were closer to the field than at these other three, and the 1990s renovations made this a fine place to watch baseball. On the other hand, I have also heard that the park infrastructure had seen better days, much as was the case with Shea Stadium, the last multipurpose stadium of the era to stand (it lasted through 2008).

The interior of Busch Stadium, Aug-1992 (pre-renovation)
Game # Date League Level Result
67 Tue 18-Aug-1992 National MLB Houston 7, ST LOUIS 6
674 Sun 25-Jul-2004 National MLB ST LOUIS 6, San Francisco 0
763 Sat 6-Aug-2005 National MLB Atlanta 8, ST LOUIS 1
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