Tuesday night I wasn't sure what to expect from the Stars, nor did any of us, however I had a sixth row seat for the action so that makes me cool. Seriously though, found two tickets for $45 each in section 117, row F, on eBay, eBay rules. For those that don't know, I'm a student at the University of Missouri, so with the Stars playing two hours away, I had to go. Unfortunately I had a class that I couldn't skip which delayed my leaving to about 4:30 and I missed warmups, arriving in St. Louis just 30 minutes before the game.
It's an easy drive to St. Louis on I-70 and then I-64 for me and parking near the arena is equally easy. There's a nice garage at Chestnut and 17th across from Union Station and just a block from Scottrade and it's $5 parking on game nights. Although as nice as that was, it appeared (and I was later informed) that parking at the meters on the street is free after 5 but I am the world's worst parallel parker and as late as we arrived, there were no spots available that I could have fit my truck in.
You can see on the map the easy path to the arena, down Market St., onto 16th, quick down Walnut, and through the "Kiel Center Parking Garage" (yes, it's still called Kiel, or at least, the sign said Kiel) into the arena.
Lots and lots of blue in the Scottrade Center, as they absolutely embrace being named after a color, unlike a certain NFL team in Cleveland that wears orange. A pretty cool little tidbit is that the signs marking the sections are made to look like Blues jerseys, I guess that's the type of thing you can do when you don't share the arena with an NBA team. I also wonder if they'll replace all the signs if the Blues get new uniforms next year as has been rumored. It's not the nicest arena in the league, especially not compared to the American Airlines Center, but for an arena built in 1994 it has nice wide concourses and clean restrooms.
Unsure as to how long until the game was to start, we rushed to our seats, which were even better than I expected...
Pretty nice, huh? Anyways, they dim the place all dark between warmups and when the teams come onto the ice. As for the arena, not bad, the seats are pretty comfortable (and BLUE!), although the big reclining chairs behind the visitor's net at the top of the plaza level are pretty tacky looking but I didn't snap a pic of them. The jumbotron desperately needs an upgrade, this one debuted in 2006 as far as I can tell, but it is quite dated compared to Dallas, or in an extreme case the new monsters in Colorado and Tampa Bay. A great thing about the AAC is the large screens on either end of the arena showing all sorts of stats throughout the game, but there is no such luxury in St. Louis as when a team is on the powerplay, they can't show the shots on goal total on the jumbotron with the penalty information taking it's place, as I said, it's dated.
A quick shot of the ceiling reveals quite a few retired numbers, including our own Brett Hull's, but there is a lack of a Stanley Cup banner up there, although the Blues fans are feeling good about their chances of adding one soon as my friend Jay points out...
Pre-game festivities included a jazz artist singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the fans clapped along, adding his own verse of "Oh when the Cup, comes to St. Lou, oh when the Cup comes to St. Lou" into it, which brought some loud cheers. There was a neat little video on the jumbotron just before the teams came out recapping the Blues' recent road trip, while also previewing the game, they also gave Rich Peverley their best wishes drawing a nice cheer from the crowd that was much appreciated by the Dallas fans in attendance. The Blues take the ice to "When the Saints Go Marching In" in organ form. As the teams skated around before the national anthem, the Blues' starting lineup was announced, captain David Backes got a decent ovation, but it paled in comparison to AMERICAN HERO TJ OSHIE's and newly acquired Ryan Miller's. Incidentally, there were a surprising amount of Miller jerseys in the crowd, the folks in St. Louis are pumped about that move. The national anthem was performed by the same jazz singer, he performed a good rendition, and I of course got some dirty looks from those around me when I yelled "STARS" at the appropriate times. Then at the end they lost all credibility by singing "and the home of the BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUES!!!!" As a Kansas City Chiefs fan, this cracked me up because Rams fans are always telling us how un-American yelling "home of the CHIEFS!!!!" is. Get your own ideas, St. Louis.
Onto the game, I won't bore you with the details as I'm sure you all watched it, but some tidbits from my experience in the arena. "LET'S GO BLUES!" is the cheer for anything and everything. Blues goal? "LET'S GO BLUES!" Stars goal? "LET'S GO BLUES!" Powerplay? "LET'S GO BLUES!" Penalty Kill? "LET'S GO BLUES!" Win the puck shuffle on the jumbotron? Well, you get the idea. The woman behind me I could tell was going to be a pain from the start. First, I was treated to her account of how she was at the recent Blues game in Nashville and "Nashville fans like hockey, but they don't understand it, like we have the best fans, and they just don't" FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THE NEXT TIME A PERSON FROM ST. LOUIS UTTERS THE WORDS "BEST FANS" I WILL LAUNCH A NUCLEAR STRIKE ON THEM
... sorry about that. This young woman would continue to be the bane of my existence throughout, pounding on my seat, calling for a high stick every time a Stars player raised their stick in the air, and generally hating Antoine Roussel.
In fairness, most Blues fans were pretty good and classy, except the one guy who yelled "F*** THE STARS" at me while I was standing at the urinal. My friend and I found out that one of the guys in front of us is actually in a chapter of our fraternity at SMU and we had a nice conversation with him. Overall the crowd seemed pretty knowledgable about the game.
At the first intermission I went and grabbed some food, not much in the way of local treats that I could find (I'm sure there was something there but I was hungry and didn't look long). They did offer St. Louis and Chicago style hot dogs but those were nine dollars each so I grabbed a six dollar jumbo dog and a Pepsi and headed back to my seat just in time to see the Blues mascot, a wolf (again, stealing from the Chiefs, stop copying us), leading the fans in a round of howling, it was weird. Overall, I was slightly disappointed by the atmosphere in the building, it was good, but it wasn't as special as I expected a first place team to have. It got quite loud at times, but not consistently enough in my opinion. Not too many unique traditions, they do a "raise the roof" dance when the Blues go on the powerplay because this is like, 1995, or something. Of course, I can't be too critical, because the Stars atmosphere is no better... sigh, one day.
Late in the third period, Chris Mueller was robbed by Ryan Miller and I thought it was a goal and started celebrating. DO NOT DO THIS. This will get you mocked endlessly until Jamie Benn rips the game winner past Ryan Miller and you actually do get to celebrate. It was a great game to be at, especially with the emotional victory for the Stars. Scottrade is a fun place to watch a game, even if it could use some renovations. Leaving was pretty easy, downtown was well marked and finding I-64 was not difficult. Driving back through a massive thunderstorm most of the way did suck, but it was worth it.