Baseball games are meant to be a lot of fun, but there are many obstacles and challenges that can add stress to your day at the ballpark. Every misstep or wrong turn has the potential to consume valuable time and make you the source of foul language that would make a sailor blush. Don’t be that guy/gal. Take my advice and follow any relevant tips in this survival guide to make your day at Busch Stadium as stress free as possible.
- Parking. Naturally, the lots nearest to Busch Stadium are typically the most expensive, and they are often the most difficult to depart after the game. If you tend to leave an inning early to beat traffic, then stop reading now and consider some of the other poor life decisions you have made recently. Seriously, tickets are not usually inexpensive, and you might as well stay for the entire game to enjoy the part where the alien spaceship rises from the ground beneath where the arch is cut into the outfield. In all seriousness, parking is more than just about cost. As with real estate, it can also be about location, location, and location. Parking in the right garage can save you 10-20 minutes getting out of town, and that makes a huge difference when your kids have had a full souvenir cup of lemonade. Personally, I tend to favor garages that provide easy access to either Chestnut or Walnut streets which both allow for easy egress in the direction of several important routes out of the city.
- Food and beverages. The Cardinals have a wonderful policy that I have been touting for quite some time. They allow non-alcoholic beverages stored in open cups or clear plastic bottles to be brought into the stadium. The limit is 2 liters for plastic bottles, and I have yet to encounter a per-person limitation. Items like thermoses, cans, alcohol, and hard-sided coolers are not permitted. Then again, just be glad that you have the option of bringing in some snacks and sodas that do not cost $4.50 and $6.50 apiece.
- There are first aid stations located inside the stadium. One is located on Level 1 behind Section 147, and the other is on Level 4 in Section 351. I’ve been to the one near Section 147, and the people who work there are top notch.
- ATM. Do yourself a favor in grab all the cash you need before you even leave for the game. There are 7 ATMs located throughout the stadium, but you may find yourself the 57th person in line and stuck behind the guy who is trying to balance his checkbook during the middle of the 4th inning.
- Large bags and backpacks are allowed inside the stadium, but the official size limitation is 16″ x 16″ x 8″. The bags must be inspected prior to your entry into the stadium, so please have your bag unzipped and ready for at least a quick glance in order to expedite the process.
- Cards Cash. In my personal opinion, this might be one of the most underutilized convenience options there is. If you have a pretty good idea of how much money you will be spending on concessions at the various restaurant facilities throughout the park, you can speed up your transaction by adding $30-40 in Cards Cash to your ticket. You won’t need to stand in line at the ATM, and you can avoid the necessity of trying to sign a credit card receipt while balancing an order of fully loaded nachos on your arm.
- Cell phones. More specifically, this is about smartphones. Literally thousands of people at the game will use their smartphones for calls, email, tweeting, doing Foursquare check-ins, and taking pictures of each other dry humping World Series replica trophies. If you plan on doing a lot of this, it might be a good idea to bring some extra juice with you to make sure you can stay online to message a picture of the guy wearing the “Lysdexics Untie” tshirt in front of you. Since I tend to tweet a lot, upload pics, and take notes for blog posts, I use a lot of battery power on my iPhone 4. To make sure I have plenty of spare capacity, I use both a Mophie Juice Pack Plus Case (about $65 on Amazon) and pair it with a New Trent iDuel Port Pack IMP50D external battery charger that has a capacity of 5000 mAh. The Mophie has a capacity of 2000 mAh, so we’re talking about 7000 mAh to spare. That is on top of the 1420 mAh that comes built into the iPhone 4 or the 1432 mAh built into the iPhone 4S. Yes, this is a lot of geekery, but you would be sorely disappointed, if you missed out on the opportunity to get a picture of a “Honkin’ For Jaime” shirt in the wild.
- If you encounter any issues such as drunken/rude/obnoxious fan, the Cardinals have a really nice texting system set up. Simply text the keyword “STLCARDS” along with a brief description of the issue and the location to 69050. I’ve used this in the past to alert the stadium’s guest services group to the presence of a rather loud, intoxicated gentleman who enjoyed leaning on things like people a bit too much. By texting instead of getting up and alerting the nearest attendant, I was able to avoid his wrath when he was kindly asked to sit before he was eventually escorted from the stadium. If you prefer calling, you can simply dial 314-345-9624 to speak directly with someone in guest services named Peggy who will tell you that it takes 3 weeks to get someone to your section. Just kidding. I don’t know that anybody in that group is actually named Peggy.
- Children age 3 and under do NOT require a ticket for admission into the stadium. However, it isn’t a bad idea to buy one, because you may need the extra space for the diaper/duffle bag that most people lug around for their infant or toddler.
- Smoking is not allowed inside Busch Stadium. Also, smoking is dumb.
- The Cardinals have worked with Anheuser-Busch, SportService, and T.E.A.M. Coalition to create the Budweiser Good Sport Designated Driver Program. If you are too intoxicated to drive, please use it. Alternatively, take a cab, the Metrolink, a limo, a bus, a bike taxi, a bass boat, or a piggyback ride to your destination. Do not drive drunk. Do not drive buzzed, because that is the same as driving drunk. If you choose to drive drunk, then you put yourself and others at risk, and you are an idiot.
- Food (again). Prior to going to the game, you may want to determine what food options are closest to your section and know a little bit about each one. Some food service stations have a large bandwidth for serving a large number of customers in a short period of time, and some are like that little nachos station on Level 1 that always runs out of something. For specific information about the food options, click here. For those of you attempting to count calories or with special dietary requirements, check out the Farmer’s Market on the mail level at Section 136. The Market sells items that do not contain any of that gluten stuff which is important for people allergic to that gluten stuff.
- If you happen to be a real techie and have concerns about losing/misplacing a family member, then I suggest that you consider bookmarking this link on your smartphone or tablet device.
- For AT&T Wireless customers who have previous experienced a lot of difficulty with signal reception in the stadium, you will be happy to know that AT&T has worked with the facility people to improve reception/bandwidth inside the stadium. The bad news is that anecdotal reports indicate that neither reception nor bandwidth has improved inside the stadium. Don’t feel too bad, though. I’ve heard from Sprint, Verizon, US Cellular, and T-Mobile customers that they have similar problems inside the stadium as well.
- Cardinals Care auctions. On Level 1, there is a small set of tables where the Cardinal Care volunteers host auctions on various pieces of interest. Typical items include autographed baseballs, bats, pictures, and hats. These items are often signed by both past and present Cardinal players, and all the proceeds raised by these auctions go to the Cardinal. If you are interested in a particular item, you simply need to write down some basic information along with your bid amount. The bid sheet will typically have a minimum starting bid, and quite frequently there are only 1 or 2 bids on each item. Alternatively, there is a “buy now” price on the bid sheet as well. If you really want that Lance Berkman autographed jersey and don’t mind plunking down $550 on the spot, then go for it. It’s for a good cause, and the jersey would be a really good Christmas gift to your favorite blogger (hint, hint).
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