A History of the Redbirds’ Home Fields
From the original Sportsman’s Park to the newest Busch Stadium, throughout the past 127 years the St. Louis Cardinals have called these facilities home.
The St. Louis Cardinals stand apart from most other Major League teams because, despite some name changes, the organization has never moved to a different city. Since the 1880s the club has always called St. Louis it’s home. From the humble wooden 19th century structures to the modern multi-deck stadiums, the Cardinals’ have shared their rich localized history with the various facilities that have hosted the team throughout the years.
The St. Louis Cardinals first came into existence as the St. Louis Brown Stockings of the American Association in 1882. The Brown Stockings played their games at Sportsman’s Park until 1893. The site, established in 1867 and originally called the Grand Avenue Ball Grounds, was re-named Sportsman’s Park in 1876, though a grandstand would not be built until 1881 for the new ball club.
In 1893 the team moved a few blocks away to New Sportsman’s Park. The new park featured ample amounts of playing room as the backstop was 120 feet behind home plate and the outfield wall in left-center sat 520 feet away. In 1899 the Brown Stockings, now simply called the Browns (and unrelated to the American League team of the same name) were acquired by Frank and Stanley Robison, who changed the team’s colors to white and red (eventually earning the club a new nickname: the Cardinals) and renamed the field, League Park. Frank died in 1908, leaving Stanley’s ownership of the club. When he passed away two years later his niece Helene Britton inherited the team. She immediately renamed the park Robison Field in honor of its previous owners.
In 1920 the team once again switched hands and the team was moved back to Sportsman’s Park. This Sportsman’s Park was a substantially improved version of the earlier structure as it had been rebuilt with steel and concrete. At this time the American League’s St. Louis Browns were the tenants and the two would share the stadium for three decades. The 1944 World Series pitted the two St. Louis teams against each other and Sportsman’s Park hosted all six games. In 1953 a financially strapped Bill Veeck sold the stadium to the Cardinals and moved his team to Baltimore. The Cardinals’ new owner, August Busch, Jr., renamed the park Busch Stadium, though it was regularly called Sportsman’s Park until its demolition in 1966.
Opened in downtown St. Louis for the 1966 season, the Civic Center Busch Memorial Stadium was one of many “cookie-cutter” multi-use stadiums built in the 1960s and 1970s. The stadium could hold more people than Sportsman’s, capable of hosting football games, and the newly constructed Gateway Arch could be seen above the white crown of arches that encircled the structure. In 1982 its name was shortened to Busch Stadium.
New Busch Stadium
In 2004 ground broke for a new $365 million facility. Half of the site for the new stadium was occupied by the one still in use, and during 2004 and 2005, as portions of the new stadium were being built, the two structures were literally a few feet apart from each other. Following the 2005 season, Busch Stadium was demolished to allow the new Busch Stadium to be completed. Built exclusively for baseball, the stadium is considerably more open than its predecessor, and much more of St. Louis’ skyline can be seen, including a better view of the Gateway Arch.