Gaming Amongst The Hoi-Polloi

Well, that wasn't the game we all hoped for, not even close, but the old cliche, "2 outta 3 aint bad," certainly holds true. We'll take our two wins and happily send the Bosox on their way to Chicago to hopefully crush the Flubs. I won't go into game highlights, mostly because there weren't any (at least Bird-wise). No, this entry is about something I've never experienced in some 37 years of attending ballgames at Busch Stadium--watching a game in The Stadium Club. I've seen a game from a luxury box before, but this was much better.

The Stadium Club is one of those places in Busch I had always wondered about. Being mostly a bleacher bum for decades, I envisioned well-dressed, tanned, good-looking yuppies sipping wine, being served by waiters in white coats with napkins draped over their forearms, and quietly discussing whatever it is doctors and lawyers and other monied folk discuss when they are in their natural habitat. I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb, be mostly ignored, and feel rather out of place the whole time. I really didn't think it would be much fun, except maybe in a vague anthropological way.

Thankfully, I can say that I was mostly wrong. There certainly were many well-dressed, good-looking people there. But they were all very friendly, and I didn't feel odd or out of place at any moment. I don't know if it was the three hour rain delay or if things are always like that there, but everybody in the joint hunkered down with their drinks (mostly beer, some mixers, but only a few sipping wine), got hammered, and were generally as rowdy as any group anywhere else in the stadium. It was a damn good time, especially considering how the game went.

If you've ever wondered, The Stadium Club is set up like any other nice bar and restaurant. It was somewhat Twilight Zone-ish to me to be brought my beverages and food rather than waiting in the usual lines at concessions--yes, THAT is something I could certainly get used to in a hurry--but there was no real sense of restrained decorum at all. People were relaxed, laughing loudly, and, much to my surprise, into every play of the game. Even going to the bathroom was cool (ye gods--a clean, nice bathroom in Busch!), as the hallway leading to it is covered in bronze plaques honoring Cardinal greats (Stan The Man, Gibby, Brock--the usual suspects).

It was odd to me to sit in an enclosed room in Busch and watch the game through giant windows, but one thing I really dug is that Mike Shannon's broadcast is piped directly into the bar, so any missed action is promptly clarified. There are also TV's everywhere for checking replays. Of course, air conditioning is also a huge plus, but after the deluge last night the temp dropped into the 70's, so it didn't make much difference. However, the next time I'm frying in 100 degree/100% humid St.Lou heat, I'll peer up at those windows with envy.

As for cost, there wasn't any--at least up front. You must be a member or guest of a member (as I was) to get in, and then everything is charged to the member's account. At the end of every month, the member gets a bill. So no tab to be paid, no "official" tipping is expected (though I slipped our great waitess a twenty because she earned it), and not a dime changes hands--there isn't even a cash register. Prices are slightly higher for food and drink, but so is the quality. The humongous plate of nachos my friend and I ate was $10.50, but it may be the best plate of nachos I've ever had--a glorious full meal for two. Plus, there's the being waited-on factor, and, best of all, there is no 7th inning last call. You may imbibe the booze of your choice until the last play of the game, whether it's 9 innings or 20. THAT I love!! All in all, my friend and I probably spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80 bucks apiece (which we won't have to remit to our member friend until payday next month). Not bad at all considering I usually spend around 50 anyway.

So, there it is. My review of The Stadium Club--a fun, new experience that I'm thrilled to have had in these last months before the Concrete Donut goes down. Now I can truly say I'd taken part (at least once) in everything old Busch had to offer. I'm sure the Club in the new Busch will be bigger, better, and more expensive--I just hope it's as friendly and facilitates such a wonderful atmosphere for enjoying even a terrible Birds game.