Meet the Old Busch

Meet the Old Busch

Opened in 1966, the former home of the St. Louis Cardinals originally was known as Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium.

A postcard of the Civic Center and Gateway Arch
Civic Center and Gateway Arch (St. Louis Color Postcard Co./photo Art Grossman)

The Cardinals left their previous home, Sportsman Park, in June 1970, and inaugurated the new, multi-purpose stadium later that month.

The Busch Stadium's Plaza of Champions covered in snow
Busch Stadium’s Plaza of Champions, Covered in Snow

The stadium’s original playing surface was grass, which proved difficult to maintain in a multi-purpose setting. Replaced with Astroturf in the 1970’s, grass returned to the stadium during mid-1990’s renovations.

The Busch Stadium's natural playing surface
Busch Stadium’s Natural Playing Surface

The stadium’s architecture paid homage to the St. Louis Arch.

The Busch Stadium Concrete Arches inspired by St. Louis Arch
Busch Stadium Concrete Arches Inspired by St. Louis Arch

The St. Louis arch loomed over the stadium, however, the stadium’s circular, enclosed shape did not allow for any sweeping vistas of the arch.

The Busch Stadium Arches and the St. Louis Arch
Busch Stadium Arches and the St. Louis Arch

Additional changes made during the mid-1990’s renovations were removal of seats above center field and addition of a hand-operated scoreboard.

The Busch Centerfield scoreboard with a construction crane in background
Busch Centerfield Scoreboard with Construction Crane in Background

The mid-1990’s renovations improved significantly the stadium’s baseball ambiance.

The Busch Stadium manual scoreboard and retired numbers
Busch Stadium Manual Scoreboard and Retired Numbers

Nothing says baseball like a stadium named after a beer company.

A Busch neon light above centerfield scoreboard
Busch Neon Light Above Centerfield Scoreboard

Although considered a “cookie-cutter” stadium, Busch Stadium had its share of majestic sight lines.

The Busch Stadium at sunset
Busch At Twilight

With its large expanse of seating and playing field, the glow of night baseball at Busch Stadium was especially striking.

A game at the Busch Stadium during night
Busch Night Game

One benefit of the cookie cutter stadiums was they allowed fans the opportunity to view the playing field from every vantage point simply by walking the entire circumference of the upper deck – something that is no longer possible in any major league ballpark still in use.

The Busch Stadium upperdeck walkway
Busch Stadium Upperdeck Walkway

The upper and lower seating bowl was a sea of red plastic, riser-mount seats.

Rows of red upperdeck seats
Rows of Red Upperdeck Seats

In 2004, the Cardinals began construction of new ballpark to be partially located in a parking lot just south of Busch Stadium.

A parking lot southwest of the stadium
Parking Lot Southwest of Stadium – Now Site of New Busch Stadium

During the summer of 2005, the new stadium could be seen rising along side old Busch Stadium.

The old and new Busch Stadium as seen from the St. Louis Arch
Old and New Busch Stadium as Seen From St. Louis Arch

Construction of the new stadium dominated the view from the outer concourse located behind right field.

The Busch Stadium upperdeck pillars and new stadium
Busch Stadium Upperdeck Pillars and New Stadium

A walk along that concourse during the summer of 2005 was bittersweet as it foretold the end of an era and the coming of another lost ballpark.

A man wearing a jersey named after Mark McGwire
Where Have You Gone Mark McGwire?

Fans purchasing souvenirs had a view of the shape of things to come.

A Busch Stadium souvenir stand
Busch Stadium Souvenir Stand With New Stadium in Background

The entrance to the New Busch Stadium under construction at the intersection of Clark Avenue and Stadium Plaza provided a striking example of the architectural differences between the two ballparks.

The old Busch and the new version
Old Busch Meets New Busch

The new ballpark’s left field sits in place of old Busch Stadium’s right field/first base seating section. An outline of a portion of Busch Stadium’s outer wall is still visible across Clark Avenue (which was added after the demolition of old Busch Stadium) which runs alongside the new stadium. The following two photographs show the former site along Walnut Street prior to asphalt pavement for parking.

The former site of Busch Stadium at the left or center field
Former Site of Busch Stadium Left/Center Field

The Cardinals plan to turn this portion of the site into a “ballpark village” with retail and residential development.

The former Busch Stadium
Former Site of Busch Stadium

Old Busch Stadium is now just another lost ballpark. Hopefully, the Cardinals, in developing their ballpark village, will find a way to pay homage to the former ballpark and demarcate precisely where the ballpark used to sit.

The brand new Busch Stadium
New Busch Stadium with Former Site of Old Busch Stadium Visible Beyond Centerfield

Byron Bennett