Busch Memorial Stadium

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Busch Stadium
Busch Stadium
Facility statistics
Location 250 Stadium Plaza
St. Louis 63102
Broke ground 1964
Opened May 12, 1966
Closed October 22, 1995 (NFL)

October 19, 2005 (MLB)

Demolished November 7, 2005-December 8, 2005
Owner St. Louis Cardinals
Surface Grass (1966-1969, 1996-2005)
AstroTurf (1970-1995)
Construction cost $25 million
Architect Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates; Edward Durell Stone; Schwarz & Van Hoefen, Associated
Former Names Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium (1966-1982)
Tenants St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (1966-2005)
St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) (1966-1987)
St. Louis Rams (NFL) (1995)
Seating Capacity 49,676 (2003, MLB)
Dimensions Left Field - 330 ft
Left-Center - 372 ft (originally 386 ft)
Center Field - 402 ft (originally 414 ft)
Right-Center - 372 ft (originally 386 ft)
Right Field - 330 ft
Backstop - 64 ft

Busch Memorial Stadium, or Busch Stadium was the home of the St. Louis Cardinals from May 12, 1966 to October 19, 2005. It opened four days after the last game was played in their old home, Sportsman's Park (which had also been known since 1953 as Busch Stadium).

The stadium was designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone. The roof's arched design echoed the iconic Gateway Arch, which was completed only a year before Busch Stadium officially opened. It was one of the first multipurpose facilities built in the United States from the early 1960s through the early 1970s, along with those in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and some others. Having hosted its last game, it further reduces the very short list of baseball's few remaining "cookie cutters" and other multipurpose facilities. The original design of the stadium had called for a baseball-only format, but the design was altered to accommodate football, a fact which arguably shortened its existence. The stadium was destroyed by [wrecking ball in late 2005, and part of its former footprint is used by its replacement stadium of the same name.

Football

Busch Stadium was the home of the St. Louis Football Cardinals beginning with that team's 1966 season. They remained there through the 1987 season, and then relocated to Tempe, Arizona after owner Bill Bidwill failed to convince the city to pay for a new football-only stadium.

Busch Stadium was also briefly the home of the St. Louis Rams, who relocated from Los Angeles to move into the new and nearby Trans World Dome, later to be renamed the Edward Jones Dome. Since construction on their new home was delayed, the Rams played their first four 1995 games at Busch Stadium.

The stadium never hosted a playoff game during the Cardinals' 28-year run in St. Louis. The "Gridbirds" made only three playoff appearances during that stretch, losing at the Minnesota Vikings in 1974, Los Angeles Rams in 1975 and Green Bay Packers in 1982.

More About the Stadium

When it opened it was known as Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium, until December 31, 1981. It became just Busch Stadium the following day. The stadium's name comes from the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch, who owned the baseball team until March 1996 and championed the stadium's construction.

The grounds were home to bronze statues of Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Jack Buck and most recently, Ozzie Smith. The stadium's playing surface, originally natural grass, was re-covered in Astroturf in 1970; grass returned in 1996.

Busch Stadium hosted World Series games in six different seasons: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 2004. The stadium was also the site of Mark McGwire's historic 62nd home run of the 1998 season that broke Roger Maris' single-season record, and also of McGwire's 70th of that season, for a record which lasted until Barry Bonds surpassed it in 2001.

The dimensions in center and the power alleys have been altered from time to time over the years. Initially the park was very conducive to the Bob Gibson and Lou Brock style of play, lots of room for pitchers to make mistakes, and for extra-base hits and not so many home runs. Later changes attempted to make the outfield better balanced between pitching and power hitting.

By the early 1990s, the stadium appeared to be falling into disrepair. However, remodeling in 1995 improved the park's sense of intimacy and converted the multi-purpose facility into a baseball-only park.

Destruction

Demolition of the stadium began at 3:07 Central Standard Time on November 7, 2005, as the location of the stadium would become part of the outfield and Ballpark Village area for the new Busch Stadium. In the days before this, many fans left their mark on the stadium by writing farewell graffiti on the exterior. Busch Memorial Stadium was originally slated to be imploded like most modern-day stadium demolitions to be able to finish construction on the new stadium in time for the 2006 season. However, due to fear of damaging the very near new stadium, it was decided to tear down the stadium with a wrecking ball piece-by-piece over a period of a few weeks. At 12:25 AM local time on December 8, 2005, the final standing section of Busch Stadium was demolished.

Gallery

Doomed Busch Stadium with the new stadium (left) under construction on August 5, 2005
Baseball diamond at Busch during night game.


Trivia

  • From day one, the stadium's electric scoreboard, which cost $1.5 million in 1960s dollars, featured a cardinal which fluttered and chirped when the Cardinals hit a home run.
  • In the inaugural game, the Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-3 in 12 innings. The game's first pitch was thrown by Ray Washburn.
  • The stadium hosted the 1966 Major League Baseball All-Star Game during a record heat wave that swept the Northeast and Midwest, and several spectators suffered heatstroke. Casey Stengel, when asked what he thought of the new stadium, remarked, "It holds the heat well!"
  • The Musial statue was unveiled on a Sunday in August 1968, after the Chicago Cubs had swept a three-game series; some fans feared the statue might turn out to be of Ernie Banks.
  • The 1968 film Paper Lion was partially filmed at Busch.
  • Parts of the 2005 film "Fever Pitch" filmed at Busch.
  • The naming rights for Busch Stadium were purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 1996, and the stadium's logo was then modeled after the logo for Busch beer.
  • At the regular season "final game" ceremonies on October 2, 2005, the club celebrated its almost 40-year history at the "old Bottle Cap" (Busch Stadium) with a two-hour post game ceremony. The Cardinals honored 11 employees who had worked there for the stadium's entire 40 year history; it also brought back stars from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Also honored were the 2005 team and the "men who built the park," Jack Buck and August A. Busch, Jr. the founder's grandson and former chairman of Anheuser-Busch. For the first time in over a decade the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales trotted around the warning track, while the 50,000+ fans in attendance sang "Here Comes the King!" (a Budweiser jingle dating back to the 1970s).
  • The final game in Busch Stadium was played on October 19, 2005, Game 6 of the 2005 National League Championship Series. The Houston Astros beat the Cardinals 5-1, taking the series 4-2. The last out recorded in the stadium was caught by Astro Jason Lane in right field off the bat of Yadier Molina off Houston relief pitcher Dan Wheeler. Lane also hit the last home-run in Busch Stadium during this game. Exactly 50 days later, the 40-year-old stadium was only a memory.

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