Cardinals fans, local bars prepare for cold home opener

ST. LOUIS – It’s going to be a chilly home opener for the Cardinals Thursday, but that isn’t stopping fans and businesses downtown from getting fired up.

Bars near Busch Stadium spent the day Wednesday racing against the clock to prepare for an influx of fans ahead of the 2024 home opener.

Just south of the ballpark, Duffy Huebschmann and his teammates at Kilroy’s said they’re ready to go.

“It’s the greatest place to get a cold beer and watch the game!” Huebschmann said.

Duffy said they’ll have heaters on the patio and the heat cranked up inside so the “best fans in baseball” can stay warm.

Meanwhile, over at Ballpark Village, Lupe Hernandez and his team at Condado Tacos are getting ready for their first-ever home opener after opening the restaurant in June. They’ve got special shirts, free shot samples, and an outdoor margarita cart ready to go.

Hernandez said they have much different crowds when the Cardinals are playing—and especially when they’re winning.

“It’s a totally different vibe, people come in with a lot more energy,” Hernandez said. “Just get yourself in here for these margaritas. We carry 130 varieties of tequila, so we can do a margarita of any flavor you want.”

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People will flood Ballpark Village and the surrounding downtown area to cheer on the team Thursday. But the most excited may be those with tickets to get inside Busch Stadium.

It will be Pat Smith’s 23rd home opener.

“I think we’re going to have a great season, and opening day is just always special,” Smith said.

What started out as a guys trip has grown to include his wife, Shannon, who didn’t always bleed Cardinal red.

“I was born and raised a Cubs fan, but I have been converted,” she said. “You know, I came into a Cardinal family, and I was alright switching over.”

Wherever you plan to watch the game, Duffy said the home opener is a reminder that even on a rainy, cold day, brighter days are ahead.

“Every year is different. Every year brings something new, something exciting…anything’s possible,” he said.

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