Busch Stadium II
April 2005 (above) and September 1977
|Former names||Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium (1966-1981)|
Busch Stadium (1982-2005)
|Location||250 Stadium Plaza|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Owner||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Operator||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Capacity||Baseball: 49,676 (1997-2005)|
|Field size||Left Field - 330 ft (101 m)|
Left-Center - 372 ft (113 m)
Center Field - 402 ft (123 m)
Right-Center - 372 ft (113 m)
Right Field - 330 ft (101 m)
Backstop - 64 ft (20 m)
Original Dimensions (1966)
Left Field - 330 ft (101 m)
Left-Center - 386 ft (118 m)
Center Field - 414 ft (126 m)
Right-Center - 386 ft (118 m)
Right Field - 330 ft (101 m)
Backstop - 64 ft (20 m)
|Surface||Natural grass (1996-2005)|
Natural grass (1966-1969)
|Broke ground||May 25, 1964|
|Opened||May 12, 1966|
|Closed||October 19, 2005|
|Demolished||November 7 - December 8, 2005|
|Construction cost||US$24 million|
($189 million in 2019 dollars)
|Architect||Sverdrup & Parcel|
Edward Durell Stone
Schwarz & Van Hoefen, Associated
|St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) (1966-2005)|
St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) (1966-1987)
St. Louis Stars (NPSL / NASL) (1967-1974)
St. Louis Rams (NFL) (1995)
The stadium served as the home of the St. Louis Cardinals National League baseball team for its entire operating existence, while also serving as home to the National Football League's Cardinals team for 22 seasons, from 1966 through 1987, as well as the St. Louis Rams during part of the 1995 season. It opened four days after the last baseball game was played at Sportsman's Park (which had also been known since 1953 as Busch Stadium).
The stadium was designed by Sverdrup & Parcel and built by Grün & Bilfinger.Edward Durell Stone designed the roof, a 96-arch "Crown of Arches". The Crown echoed the Gateway Arch, which had been completed only a year before Busch Stadium opened. It was one of the first multipurpose "cookie-cutter" facilities built in the United States, popular from the early 1960s through the early 1980s.
Its final event was the sixth game of the 2005 NLCS on October 19. The stadium was demolished by wrecking ball in late 2005 and part of its former footprint is occupied by its replacement stadium--the new Busch Stadium (a.k.a. Busch Stadium III), located just south.
With new stadiums such as the Astrodome and Shea Stadium, St. Louis felt the need to modernize. Many of these stadiums demonstrated modern feats of engineering and architecture, but also demonstrated a transition occurring for the American public at the time: traditional to the cutting edge. At the time of design, the Busch Stadium II was planned to be used for several purposes. The stadium was named Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium. Just weeks after opening the new stadium hosted the All-Star Game followed by a performance by the Beatles. The landmark that distinguishes St. Louis's skyline today, the Gateway Arch, was built across the street. To complement this historic landmark, the new stadium had 96 open arches on its roof. As a testament to the design, St. Louis's Stadium was the last built in the 60's to be torn down. After serving the St. Louis Cardinals for 40 seasons, the Memorial Stadium was torn down in 2005.
The baseball Cardinals had played at Sportsman's Park since 1920. They originally were tenants of the St. Louis Browns of the American League. Although the Cardinals had long since passed the Browns as St. Louis' favorite team, they had wanted to get a stadium of their own at least as early as before World War II.
In the 1940s, longtime owner Sam Breadon had set aside $3 million to build a new park but was unable to find any land. Facing the prospect of having to pay taxes on his stadium fund, he sold the team to tax lawyer Fred Saigh in hopes of avoiding the tax burden. When this tax dodge came to light in 1953, Saigh was forced to put the team up for sale. Ultimately, Anheuser-Busch bought the Cardinals with the specific goal of keeping them in St. Louis.
However, the Cardinals would have likely needed a new park in any event. Sportsman's Park had been built in its current form in 1909 and had not aged well. By 1953, even with the rent from the Cardinals, there was not nearly enough revenue to bring the stadium up to code. With this in mind, soon after Anheuser-Busch bought the Cardinals, Browns owner Bill Veeck sold the park to the Cardinals, who renamed it Busch Stadium and renovated it so it could continue to be used pending the building of a new park.
In 1958, Charles Farris, the city's head of development, proposed a new stadium downtown as the core of a plan to revive a 31-block area of the business district. The original design of the stadium had called for a baseball-only format, but the design was altered to accommodate the football Cardinals, who had moved in from Chicago after the 1959 season and shared Sportsman's Park/Busch Stadium with the baseball Cardinals. With support from the local Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Center Redevelopment Corporation was established in September 1959; it was given power of eminent domain, which is used to condemn the city's small Chinatown, the Grand Theater (a strip club), and various warehouses and flophouses.
Groundbreaking occurred on May 25, 1964, and construction took just under two years. The plan also included parking garages, a hotel (a Stouffer's hotel), and office buildings. A few years later, it also became the new home of the Spanish Pavilion from the 1964 New York World's Fair. The stadium opened on May 12, 1966, one month into the baseball season, as Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium. However, the "Civic Center" part was rarely used, and most people called it simply Busch Memorial Stadium.
The stadium's grass was replaced with AstroTurf in 1970, in part because St. Louis' notoriously hot summers made it difficult to keep the grass alive when the football Cardinals insisted on practicing on the field during the end of the Cardinal baseball season. The Cardinals retained the traditional dirt skin infield for eight seasons, temporarily covering the dirt infield, for football, with a removable, sectioned Astroturf surface, then converted to sliding pits when the surface was replaced for the 1978 baseball season. With artificial turf, the playing conditions at Busch Stadium were among the hottest in baseball, with temperatures well above the local official readings.
Anheuser-Busch (who owned the baseball Cardinals at the time) bought the stadium in 1981 for $53 million and removed the "Memorial" from the stadium's name, becoming simply Busch Stadium; the price included the parking garages.
Over the years the grounds became home to bronze statues of Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Dizzy Dean, Rogers Hornsby, Red Schoendienst, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, George Sisler, Jack Buck, and Ozzie Smith.
Following Busch's last 1995 event— the Rams' October 22 game before the opening of the now-Dome at America's Center— the Cardinals retrofitted it into a baseball-only stadium. A large section of the upper deck outfield seats was closed, replaced with a hand-operated scoreboard and flags commemorating the Cardinals' retired numbers and World Series championships. The stadium's original natural grass field was restored, and the outfield walls were repainted green from their original blue.
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. Due to fear of damaging the nearby Metro subway and stadium station, it was decided to tear down the stadium with a wrecking ball, piece-by-piece, over a few weeks.
Demolition of the stadium began at 3:07 p.m. CST on November 7 and was completed shortly after midnight on December 8, 2005.
Part of the footprint of the old stadium is now occupied by the outfield of the current stadium. The Cardinals had planned to build Ballpark Village on the site of the stadium ($320 million for the first phase). It was to consist of boutiques and restaurants, condominium apartments anchored by the new headquarters of Centene Corporation -- all to be built in time for the All-Star Game in 2009.
None of the construction had occurred until groundbreaking ceremonies on February 8, 2013, and locals derisively referred to its rain-soaked unfinished status before that date as "Lake DeWitt"--after Cardinal President William DeWitt, Jr. The Cardinals in March 2009 announced the site would be used for a softball field and parking during the game.
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The stadium was one of the smaller facilities in the NFL. While the Cardinals played there, it never seated much more than 54,000 people, just barely over the NFL's minimum capacity. After efforts to get a larger stadium failed, the owner Bill Bidwill moved the team to Phoenix, Arizona after the 1987 season.
The football Cardinals never hosted a playoff game during their 28 seasons in St. Louis. The "Gridbirds" made only three playoff appearances during that stretch, losing on the road against the Minnesota Vikings in 1974, Los Angeles Rams in 1975, and Green Bay Packers in 1982. They did win the third place Playoff Bowl after the 1964 season, upsetting Vince Lombardi's Packers 31-24 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Busch Stadium was also briefly the home of the St. Louis Rams, who relocated from Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. Completion of their new home, the new and nearby Trans World Dome (later renamed the Dome at America's Center) was delayed, so the Rams played the first half of the 1995 season at Busch Stadium. For these four home games, Busch Stadium seated 60,000 people. The Rams played their last game at Busch Stadium on October 22. The new indoor venue hosted its first NFL game on November 12, 1995.
In between the Cardinals' departure and the Rams' arrival, the stadium hosted two NFL exhibition games, between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in 1989, and the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1991.
In its opening year, Busch Stadium hosted the All-Star Game, a 2-1 National League victory in 10 innings, mostly remembered for the humidity and 105 °F (41 °C) temperatures. The stadium hosted World Series games in six different seasons: 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 2004. The Cardinals won the World Series in 1967 and 1982 while playing in the stadium (the seventh game of the 1982 Series was won at Busch). The 1968 and 2004 World Series were clinched in Busch Stadium by visitors: the Detroit Tigers in the seventh game and the Boston Red Sox in a four-game sweep, respectively.
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 the center and the power alleys had been altered from time to time over the years. Initially, the park was very favorable to pitchers, with spacious outfield dimensions. Consequently, its design (as well as the Astroturf surface) was favorable to the Cardinals' style of play for most of the time from the 1960s through the 1990s, which emphasized good baserunning and extra-base hits. Later changes attempted to make the outfield better balanced between pitching and power hitting.
Before the 1996 season, the stadium was retrofitted to become a baseball-only stadium. Part of the top deck in center field was permanently closed, and in 1997, flags were put in place to honor the team's retired numbers and pennants. Even before then, the stadium had come under less scorn from baseball purists than other cookie-cutter stadiums built during the same era, partly because the "crown of arches" gave it a more traditional look than its cousins and partially because it was alone amongst cookie-cutters in having field-level outfield seating.
Acts who have performed at Busch Stadium include: