Insider Guide for 2018 MVC and SEC Basketball Tournaments
March Madness is upon us—and it’s coming to St. Louis! One of sports’ most exciting months gets things started right here in the Gateway City. The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament (March 1-4) and the SEC Tournament (March 7-11) will pack Downtown and Midtown with some of the best college basketball fans in the country.
Here’s our guide to experiencing the best St. Louis has to offer while you’re here!
Get a lay of the land
Both tournaments take place at the recently upgraded Scottrade Center, home of the St. Louis Blues. If you are staying downtown, leave the car parked! You can easily walk to Scottrade or use car shares and taxis.
The official fan hangout spot for MVC is Ballpark Village (BPV for short), located right next door to Busch Stadium. With nearly 15 different places inside to eat, drink, and watch sports, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone—that includes cheering on your team under a 40 foot LED TV. BPV will be running specials all throughout the tournament, including live music and exclusive promotions.
The SEC FanFare is just outside Scottrade Center on 14th Street! With a jam-packed weekend, FanFare is the best place to relax, grab a drink, a bite to eat and be entertained by live music, interactive games and more!
Even though basketball is the reason for your trip, don’t let that stop you from taking in some of the fine cuisine before, during, and after games.
Not all arena food is created equally, and lucky for you, Scottrade features more than just your average hot dogs and popcorn. Instead you will find food stalls from some of the city’s hottest restaurants. Grab fried chicken at Byrd & Barrel, some famous St. Louis BBQ from Sugarfire Smokehouse, or a cheesy roast beef sandwich from Lion’s Choice. If you’re looking to grab a drink post-game, mosey on down to StartBar, Wheelhouse, Tin Roof, or Flying Saucer—all great spots to have some fun (and keep the trash talk going).
When you need a breath of fresh air, take a stroll east and enjoy the beautiful Citygarden and marvel at the city’s classic architecture. If you’re like us, you’ll work up a mighty appetite after, and Downtown has plenty of amazing options to satisfy you. Gioia’s Deli—celebrating its 100th year!—is a James Beard winning sandwich shop, famous for its signature Hot Salami. Other great options include Porano Pasta (build your own salad or pasta bowl…plus pizza!), Mango Peruvian, Pi Pizza, and Cielo at the Four Seasons—especially for a romantic dinner, and a view of the Arch.
Bonus points: if you’re an amazing parent bringing their kid to town for the tournament, let them take a break from the action at the City Museum! It’s not far from Scottrade, and it is like someone’s wildest imagination came to life.
Beyond the hardwood
Just because you’re Downtown enjoying the games doesn’t mean you can’t explore the rest of St. Louis. If you’re looking for a little more time outdoors, hop on highway 64 (known to locals as highway 40—we know, it’s confusing) and head West. On your way, you’ll pass the Missouri Botanical Gardens and Forest Park, which is 500 acres larger than Central Park, and houses the Saint Louis Zoo (the best in the country!), the Saint Louis Art Museum, and more.
Famished from all that walking? Head into the Tower Grove area and enjoy mind-blowingly delicious sandwiches at Union Loafers and french pastries at its neighbor, La Patisserie Chouquette. Or, if that doesn’t sound like your style, head to Grace Meat and Three for food so good and comforting (read: unhealthy), you’ll need a nap. Seriously, don’t skip out on that hot chicken.
As you’ve probably deduced, St. Louis is a beer city, and a tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery should absolutely be on your list of things to do. It’s beautiful, it’s interesting, and you get to drink beer. Win/win/win. Beyond A-B, St. Louis is home to over 60 (!) other breweries. Visit the St. Louis Brewers Guild website for a comprehensive overview of your options, but we’re always fans of visiting Schlafly’s downtown Taproom and their larger Maplewood Bottleworks. For the sour beer lovers, a visit to Side Project Cellar or Perennial are musts.
Excited about your visit? So are we. We hope you enjoy exploring the best that St. Louis has to offer—and that your team wins, of course
– This blog was written by Spencer Pernikoff/Olio City