ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Busch Stadium was a beehive of activity Thursday, as preparations for the Nov. 13 U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup Qualifier soccer match against St. Vincent and The Grenadines got underway.
The first step was a unique one – taking down the foul poles for the first time since they were installed during the 2006 season. They were left in place for two previous soccer games at the stadium.
“Certainly we have the time to take the poles down and put them back up,” says Cardinals vice president of events services and merchandising, Vicki Bryant. “But most importantly, this allows us to make about 3,000 seats unobstructed.” She says U.S. Soccer felt it was important to improve those sight lines.
The left-field pole was first. A bucket lifted a worker, who attached a crane hook to the top of the pole. After workers loosened the eight bolts at the base, the crane lifted the pole out of place. It was then set down on the warning track. The process was repeated in right field.
Bryant says the poles will be cleaned and painted while they’re down, “so that when we open up opening day they’ll be beautiful and just like new.”
As that process wound down, an official with U.S. Soccer arrived to observe field preparations. Bryant says that includes having the field surveyed – “They’ll get the width and exact corner locations down.”
Next week, the mound will be removed. Tuesday, the grass for the infield and warning track arrives.
“There’ll be a lot more of the warning track that will have grass on it then we’ve ever had,” Bryant says. “That’s what’s allowing us to get the FIFA regulation-sized field.”
Among those watching the process Thursday morning was U.S. Women’s National Team member Lori Chalupny, who played at Busch last year. She says the field is top quality.
“I think it goes down as one of the best fields I’ve ever played on. It was great. You couldn’t tell at all that there was turf on top of the dirt. They did it up right,” Chalupny says.
Also Thursday, the Cardinals announced three days of events in conjunction with the game.
They kick off at 5 p.m. Nov. 12, when the downtown buildings will be lit red, white and blue. From 7 p.m. to midnight, FanHQ opens with a party at Ballpark Village featuring the band Feel Good Inc.
Match day includes a lunchtime concert with Delicious Fishes at the Old Post Office Plaza and a soccer field set up on Locust between 8th and 9th streets.
From 1:30 to 5 p.m., FanHQ resumes at Ballpark Village. The stadium gates open at 4 p.m. The March to the Match, led by a Budweiser Clydesdale and the American Outlaws, begins at 4:30. The match kicks off at 5:30.
On the day after the match, Nov. 14, a sendoff concert featuring Travis Marvin and Josh Thompson will be held from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Ballpark Village.
Bryant says that as of Thursday morning, there are still just over 1,000 tickets available, including midfield and sideline seats. She expects close to 44,000 to attend the match, about a third of whom, she says, are coming from outside a 50-mile radius of St. Louis.
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