St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day Traditions
Opening Day in St. Louis is a city-wide holiday. Baseball fan or not, it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in the excitement of Cardinal Nation and the start of a new season. Sure, Opening Day is a big deal in other cities where they host Major League teams, but nowhere is quite like St. Louis, where the “best fans in baseball” treat the day as Christmas in April. The entire population seems to wear red to commemorate the special day, and a ticket to the game is coveted and hard to come by. The good news is ticket or no ticket, downtown St. Louis and the surrounding bars and restaurants keep the excitement going all day, so grabbing a table at a nearby establishment to watch the game is a great backup plan. This year, the home opener is Friday, April 5th, when the birds on the bat take on the San Diego Padres at 3:15pm.
First Things First: The Golden Ticket
Get yourself a ticket! Even if they sell out before you can pull the trigger, many resale websites offer tickets, or you might get lucky walking around pre-game if some unlucky fan has had a change of plans. Once the ticket is secured, keep in mind, one does not simply just go to the game. Opening Day has its own set of traditions, comradery, and history that make it one of the best events of the year, and you will definitely want to get there early for it. Opening Day is also the day you get a free magnet schedule upon entering (as if you need another reason to attend).
Pre-Game: Be a Tourist in Your Own City
Locals use the Cards home opener as a chance to get in touch with their inner St. Louisian. Head to The Hill for St. Louis style pizza and t-ravs on your way downtown, or head to Soulard to one of the many bars and restaurants that offer free shuttle to and from the stadium. 1860’s Saloon is a favorite, as their shuttle runs an hour before and after the game, and makes trips throughout the entire nine innings. Ballpark Village and bars like Wheelhouse and Tin Roof serve as ground zero for all the pre-game action, as well as tailgaters in the surrounding lots. Fill up on a Tin Roof burger, and then head into the stadium after the gates open to not miss all the pre-game festivities.
Busch Stadium Traditions: The Main Event Before the Main Event
Win or lose, the pageantry of Opening Day at Busch is just as good as anything that happens between the lines. Over 40,000 strong will be in attendance, all in good spirits and discussing that this is surely the Cards year to win it all. The famous Budweiser Clydesdales start the party off with a parade around the warning track, followed by legendary introductions from Cardinals past. The team always bring back their Hall of Fame players, clad in their red jackets waiting to greet this year’s team and starting lineup. They are ushered in on brand new pickup trucks around the warning tracks as fans scream in adulation. It’s this nostalgia and the ode to the past that makes the day so special.
Play Ball: Grab an ice cold Budweiser
Inside baseball heaven, a.k.a. Busch Stadium, there are many food and drink options to choose from. The classic peanuts and hot dog can now make way for this year’s Feature burger called “Taste of the Hill Burger”, two smashed burgers covered in house-made marinara sauce and provel cheese, served on Budweiser buns and topped with two toasted raviolis. This new burger can be found on the Budweiser Terrace, at the aptly named Budweiser Burger Bar. Whether this St. Louis inspired item replaces your beer and brat remains to be seen, but there’s nothing like that first bite of ballpark fare to get you in the spirit of baseball.
Post Game: 1 down, 161 to go.
This year’s late afternoon start ensures the post-game will leave you plenty of time to grab dinner downtown to wait out the crowds and traffic getting home. We’ve got a full guide on Where to Eat After a Game. Head to the newly opened The Midwestern, a BBQ restaurant on Spruce, or hit up old favorites like Broadway Oyster Bar or have a burger at Bailey’s Range.
However you choose to close out your day of Cardinals baseball, the warm tangible feeling in the air of excitement and promise of the (winning) season to come is something that sticks with you long after you leave, and is what makes Opening Day in St. Louis so special.