Cards already have more than 3 million tickets spoken for

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Only about a half million tickets are available for games this year at the new Busch Stadium.

ST. LOUIS -- With a month and a half to go before the baseball season, more than 3 million tickets have been sold or committed for 2006 games at the new Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals president Mark Lamping said Friday.

In fact, demand is so great that the team on Friday cut off further sales of season tickets after selling 27,500 -- which translates to nearly 2.3 million tickets at the season's 81 games.

Combine that with 300,000 in group ticket sales, 117,000 sales of four-game packages, 86,000 tickets for party rooms and picnic areas, 120,000 for team obligations such as players' wives and other friends of the organization, and 170,000 giveaway tickets for military personnel, clergy and amateur baseball coaches, and a bit more than 3 million tickets are spoken for.

That means just 510,877 tickets will be available when individual-game sales begin March 4.

"Fortunately or unfortunately, we do not have the capacity for the demand," Lamping said.

"The opening of the new Busch Stadium means the demand for Cardinals tickets, and the scarcity of tickets, have each never been greater in the history of the ballclub."

The new red-brick stadium being built next to the site of the old Busch, which was demolished last year, will eventually have a seating capacity of 43,975, though 46,861 can squeeze in with standing-room-only tickets and by crowding in extra people in party rooms.

But while construction of the stadium is ahead of schedule -- Lamping estimated it is 80 percent complete -- it won't be finished until mid-July. As a result, the Cardinals anticipate that total capacity, including standing-room-only tickets, will be 40,713 through July 2.

Lamping expects many of the individual-game tickets to be sold within hours of going on sale at 9 a.m. March 4. Fans cannot buy tickets at the ballpark -- they can be purchased by calling (314) 345-9000, on the Web at stlcardinals.com, or in person at Schnucks Markets or at Cardinals Team Clubhouse Shops at St. Louis Union Station, the St. Louis Galleria and St. Clair Square.

Adult ticket prices range from $13 to $42 for most games. Some locations also offer children's tickets for $7 or $9. Twenty of the 81 home games have been deemed "premium games," with adult prices ranging from $18 to $47. Those include the home-opener April 10 against Milwaukee, all Saturday games, and all games against the rival Chicago Cubs.

Lamping said it was possible the stadium could be finished before mid-July, which would make additional seats available.

The field will get grass early next month, said Bill DeWitt III, senior vice president for business development for the Cardinals.

The first game in the stadium will be an exhibition featuring the Cardinals' top two minor-league teams -- Triple-A Memphis against Double-A Springfield -- in an April 4 dress rehearsal of sorts. Tickets for that game go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, only by phone or at stlcardinals.com.

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