ST. LOUIS – A tradition like none other is almost here: Opening Day for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals begin their 2023 season Thursday at Busch Stadium with the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch for the new season is set for 3:10 p.m.
Tens of thousands are expected to gather around Downtown St. Louis to celebrate. Upwards of 48,000 lucky fans have a chance to fill up the stadium. Others may enjoy the festivities from Ballpark Village, local sports bars or other destinations around downtown.
Even if you’re not planning to attend the game, there is plenty to enjoy around Opening Day. Here’s a brief look on what to expect.
Opening Day pep rally
Rise and shine! The party begins early at Ballpark Village. Fans have a chance to enjoy the Opening Day pep rally from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The pep rally is free for anyone to attend. Fredbird, Team Fredbird, DJ Todd Thomas, Cardinals organist Dwayne Hilton, Cardinals Alumni and others will take the stage at the Together Credit Union Plaza. Guests should expect music, food and drink concessions, and possible opportunities to win Cardinals tickets and other prizes.
Many well-known St. Louis organizations, including FOX 2, will also be celebrating. FOX 2 and KPLR 11 has teamed up with Y-98 and 102.5 for a free party at Kiener Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests will have a chance to meet and greet several FOX 2 personalities and there will also be some games, drinks and food to enjoy.
Timeline of pregame ceremonies
Important message for anyone attending the ballgame and wanting to experience it all: Give yourself extra time to get into Busch Stadium. Make sure you are in your seats by 2:25 at latest. That time is approximately when pregame ceremonies will begin. Gates will open at noon in anticipation of a large crowd.
The Budweiser Clydesdales, as per tradition, will make the opening lap around the field. Ownership team members Bill DeWitt Jr. and Bill DeWitt III, along with head executive John Mozeliak, will then head to the field for introductions.
Just after 2:30 p.m., the Cardinals expect to show a special tribute video and welcome several St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame members in red jackets. All members will be escorted in a Ford convertible motorcade.
Around 2:45 p.m., the Cardinals plan to recognize the 2022 NL Central Division championship.
After that, cue the player introductions. The Cardinals coaching staff and players will ride out in a Ford motorcade in similar fashion of the Hall of Famers. Players in the starting lineup will be introduced after the coaches, bench players and bullpen arms. The expected starting battery of Miles Mikolas and Willson Contreras will likely use that time to warm up in the bullpen, but everyone else will be introduced as they get out of their vehicles.
The Toronto Blue Jays will be announced after the Cardinals, likely right around 3 p.m.
After the introductions
Because the Blue Jays are MLB’s only team from Canada, fans will hear both the Canadian and U.S. national anthems before the game. Violinist Abigail Stahlschmidt will perform “O Canada.” After that, the Ft. Leonard Wood Joint Service Color Guard will have a presentation ready for the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Following both anthems, around 3:05 p.m., there will be an epic ceremonial first pitch. New National Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen will throw the first pitch to new Cardinals Hall of Famer Matt Holliday.
Both teams will be ready for action quickly after that. Miles Mikolas will deliver the first pitch around 3:10 p.m.
Unlike many games throughout the season, ticketed fans will be allowed into the ballpark nearly three hours ahead of game time for a chance to walk around the stadium and watch the Cardinals in batting practice. The Blue Jays will take batting practice after the Cardinals.
The Cardinals’ batting practice is currently planned from 12:05-12:55 p.m. The Blue Jays’ session is scheduled for 1-1:50 p.m.
One of the best spots to watch batting practice is the outfield bleachers for a chance to catch a home run ball. The section most below Big Mac Land is a popular spot for right-handed hitters to hit a big fly that fans might be able to catch. Also check for spots near the center-field lawn, around the bullpens and right-field foul pole.
Gates open at noon for anyone wanting to see batting practice, walk around or get to their seats quickly.
If you venture downtown, be prepared for a bit of a walk to Busch Stadium. Though the Ballpark Village lot is a popular close option, it will likely be unavailable come Opening Day.
Some other nearby options include the Start parking lot under Interstate 64 along 7th Street, garages near Kiener Plaza and Union Station. Check out Parkopedia.com for a closer look at options.
Rideshares will drop off and pick up on the east side of the stadium on Broadway near Spruce Street or on the west side of the stadium on Spruce Street near the Westin Hotel. For the Metrolink, the East Riverfront Station will be closed for commuters, but most other red-line and blue-line stops will be open for access to the ballpark.
How to watch
If you’re unable to attend the home opener or festivities, you can catch the action through Bally Sports Midwest. There will be a one-hour pregame special that includes some interviews to start, then quickly moves into the coverage of the pregame ceremonies.
Check with your local cable provider to see if Bally Sports Midwest is available. You can also listen to the action on radio through 1120 KMOX in the St. Louis area.
For those outside the St. Louis region and with a T-Mobile account, take advantage of this new, limited-time offer to possibly watch the Cardinals for free.
The Cardinals will need to make a few more transactions to finalize their roster ahead of Thursday, but this is what the team plans to roll with…
- Jack Flaherty
- Giovanny Gallegos
- Ryan Helsley
- Jordan Hicks
- Steven Matz
- Miles Mikolas
- Jordan Montgomery
- Packy Naughton
- Andre Pallante
- Chris Stratton
- Zack Thompson
- Drew VerHagen
- Jake Woodford
- Willson Contreras
- Andrew Knizner
- Nolan Arenado
- Brendan Donovan
- Tommy Edman
- Paul Goldschmidt
- Nolan Gorman
- Taylor Motter
- Alec Burleson
- Dylan Carlson
- Lars Nootbaar
- Tyler O’Neill
- Jordan Walker
Adam Wainwright, Paul DeJong and Wilking Rodriguez will start the season on the injured list.
New at the ballpark
Fans will enjoy some new elements around the ballpark in 2023. Some are related to the gameplay, others to the food experience.
- MLB now adopts a pitch-clock system similar to that of the minor leagues. Pitchers are required to throw to hitters within 15 seconds if bases are empty or 20 seconds if runners are on base.
- MLB’s new setup requires teams to position two infielders on each side of second base (no more, no less) when the pitcher starts his windup. All four infielders are also asked to keep both feet within the infield while the pitcher is on rubber
- The standard size for first base, second base and third base now increases from a 15-inch square to a 18-inch square. Home plate remains the same size.
- Mission Taco Joint builds upon its six St. Louis and Kansas City-area locations, including one concession stand at the Enterprise Center. The team gets a spot in Section 150, just to the right of the home-plate entrance.
- Founded in 2018, Big Chicken fuses Shaq’s home-cooked childhood favorites with several trending flavors. Customers can order crispy chicken sandwiches and tenders, along with wedge fries and shakes. Check for the stops outside Sections 358 and 135.
- Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers finds a home at Busch Stadium, its first MLB ballpark location. It sits at the ballpark’s Budweiser Terrace section in right field.
For more information to plan ahead for Opening Day, visit Cardinals.com.