And, as you know, no team does Opening Day quite like the Cardinals. With a World Series championship to celebrate (which means those gold jerseys and hats) as well as all the traditional Opening Day festivities, it will be quite a day.
Here’s a look at the schedule, courtesy of the Cardinals.
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Opening Day Pep Rally
The Cardinals will host a pre-game pep rally in the Ballpark Village Lot, located directly across from Busch Stadium at the corner of Clark Street and South Broadway. Local rock band Trixie Delight will perform from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Fredbird and Team Fredbird will be on hand to give away Opening Day tickets, autographed items and other Cardinals prizes. Fans can stop by the Hardee’s Photo Booth, where they can get their Opening Day picture taken for free, and visit the Hardee’s Mobile Diner where, with the purchase of a Combo Meal, they will receive a complimentary Opening Day t-shirt.
11:45 a.m. — Gates open
Busch Magnet Schedule Day: All fans with a ticket ages 21 and over will receive a magnet with the 2012 Cardinals schedule, compliments of Busch Beer.
1:30 p.m. — Pre-game ceremony
- Begins with an appearance by the famed Budweiser Clydesdales.
- Includes introductions of Missouri Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon, St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay as well as Fredbird and Team Fredbird.
- Cardinals Hall-of-Famers will be introduced via a motorcade around the warning track.
- Video tribute to the 2011 World Champions.
- Introduce representatives of the last four World Championships, who will escort in the Cardinals last four World Championship trophies: Mike Shannon (’67),Tommy Herr (’82), David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds (’06) and Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan (’11).
- Introduce the reigning World Champion St. Louis Cardinals via motorcade.
- The family of U.S. Army Specialist Jeffrey L. White Jr. will raise the 2011 World Championship Banner in left field. Specialist White, who was serving his country in Operation Enduring Freedom, died April 3 in the Khost Province of Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was an avid Cardinals fan who was home on leave for Game 7 of the World Series last October and was planning to attend Opening Day with his family before he was killed.
- Introduce the Chicago Cubs and the starting lineups.
- American bald eagle flight, courtesy of the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.
- Color Guard – The U.S. Marine Corps.
- A moment of silence to former Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch.
- Shannon Magrane, singer and Season 11 contestant on American Idol, will sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
- U.S. Air Force Flyover – two F-16s.
- Ceremonial first pitch.
2:15 p.m. — Game time
If you won’t be there, both the ceremony and the game will be on Fox Sports Midwest. The ceremony and game also will be on KMOX Radio and the Cardinals Radio Network, with expanded radio coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m.
If you will be there, here’s some transportation info from the Cardinals.
Getting to the Game / Ramp Closures on I-64
MoDOT will not have any lane closures on state highways inside the city limits for Opening Day and Opening Weekend, except for those behind permanent barriers on Interstate 70. The department will start a project to renovate the driving surface of the double deck bridge on I-64 in May. One lane will be closed around the clock on westbound I-64 until late September. One lane will be closed around the clock on eastbound I-64 from late August until late October. At this time, several I-64 closures are planned for weekends, but will not be scheduled during Cardinal home games.
Alternative Transportation Reminder
MetroLink is a convenient alternative to driving, allowing fans to avoid the cost of parking and game day traffic. To avoid the cost of parking and game day traffic, fans can use one of nineteen free Park-Ride lots along the MetroLink line and take the train to Stadium Station, right across the street from the ballpark. Check the Metro website http://www.MetroSt.Louis.org for schedules and the Park-Ride lot nearest you. There are also plenty of buses in Missouri and Illinois that will get fans to Busch Stadium including the RedBird Express that departs from the Water Tower at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The first RedBird Express leaves 2 ½ hours before the game and runs every 5-10 minutes.
There also are some new concession options available at Busch Stadium for the 2012 season.
- The Asian Café at gate 1, featuring either rice or noodles topped with chicken or beef, fresh veggies and Asian-inspired sauces.
- The Carvery at gate 2, featuring marinated turkey or beef sliced right off bone, then piled high onto fresh-baked bread from St. Louis’ own Fazio’s Bakery.
- Sliders and Fries at section 148, featuring braised beef with au jus, pulled chicken with chipotle mayonnaise, and St. Louis-style barbecue pulled pork with grilled onions.
- Coke Island at gate 1, popping up several delicious flavors of fresh popcorn, including butter, white cheddar, Cajun and Cinnamon Sweet Cardinal Corn.
- Back by popular demand from the World Series are two favorites: the St. Louis Barbecue Bacon Dog (available in sections 133, 168 and the Redbird Club), and Build Your Own Nachos (available in sections 131, 151 and the Redbird Club).
It’s bound to be a thrilling day, and I’m very excited to be attending — all the more after seeing this schedule. Who else will be there?