Forty-nine years since their last Stanley Cup Finals appearance, the St. Louis Blues have made it to Game 7 in Boston, and fans were ready to watch their hockey team potentially make history Wednesday.
At downtown Busch Stadium, fans filed in early to a watch party hosted by the St. Louis Cardinals. Big screens broadcast the game as eager fans filled the stadium despite the rain.
Just down the street at the Enterprise Center, the Blues’ home base, a sellout crowd packed the arena for a watch party.
After the Enterprise Center’s watch party sold out, the Cardinals announced their own watch party, selling tickets for $20, the same price as those sold at Enterprise, said Meghan Boschert, a communications game day associate with the Cardinals. When tickets went on sale Tuesday, 18,000 were sold in the first 90 minutes. By Wednesday, they’d sold 23,400 tickets.
According to Boschert, all proceeds from the watch parties will go to Cardinals Care, the baseball team’s charitable arm, and Blues for Kids, the hockey team’s charity.
“It’s the first time something like this has happened, and it’s so great for the city,” Boschert said, commenting on how the Blues’ success has restored faith for the city’s sports fans. “It’s all about coming together as one nation in St. Louis.”
5:30 p.m. Gates 1, 2 and 3 open at Busch Stadium as fans file in despite a drizzle.
Rachel Anderson, who came from Edwardsville, was one of the first fans in the stadium. She came with her mom, dad and sister to watch the game.
“I’ve been following along and I’m prepared to witness history,” Anderson said. “I’m excited and I hope we come out on top.”
6:30 p.m. The sun was finally shining at Busch Stadium as fans buy hot dogs, nachos and beer, and begin to find their seats.
Though Diane Jones of Granite City had never been much of a hockey fan before this season, she said seeing how intense Blues fans have been inspired her to start watching. She was at the stadium on Wednesday with her grandchildren, Jailynn and Jonabon Woods, and her daughter, Samantha.
“We came for the atmosphere and just to be around other people who enjoy watching,” Jones said.
Several people arrived with their loved ones, including Ann Birsinger and her dad Ron Mason. Birsinger said she’d waited online for tickets to the Enterprise Center’s watch party for a Father’s Day gift, but when that sold out in 30 minutes, she was glad to see Busch Stadium was offering an opportunity to watch as well.
“It’s kind of fun to be watching it in Busch Stadium,” Birsinger said. “Seeing other sports support each other in the same hometown is great.”
Others echoed the same sentiments.
“It’s the farthest they’ve ever gone and the city’s really come together to support them,” said Eric Thieret, who came to the watch party with his brother Adam and their friends. One of those friends, George Wall, said he’s listened to his parents talk about the last time the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup.
“I know the boys are buzzing in Boston,” Wall said of the team.
“Hopefully they win and this is something we can tell our grand kids about,” Thieret said.
7 p.m. Faceoff.
Fans at Busch Stadium cheered for every Blues player during the lineup announcement, but erupted when goalie Jordan Binnington’s name was called. During the Bruins players’ announcements, fans chanted, “Let’s Go Blues!”
One of those people was Jonathan Bundy, who said the atmosphere at Busch Stadium was “amazing.”
“I can’t believe how great this city is rallying around our boys,” he said.
7:40 p.m. The rain starts to pour during the first period. Some fans run for cover from their seats as others stick it out.
7:46 p.m. Ryan O’Reilly scores for the Blues.
Fans jumped out of their seats at Busch Stadium, swinging their towels and chanting for the Blues. Despite the falling rain, people are smiling ear to ear.
7:52 p.m. Alex Pietrangelo scores another goal for the Blues.
Jim and Karen Minnihan, from Lake St. Louis, Missouri, were very excited after the first period, with two goals on the scoreboard.
“We’re proud of this team,” said Jim, as Karen added, “We’re proud of this city.”
Jim saw the Blues play in the Stanley Cup Final in 1970, and was glad to be at Busch Stadium for this game.
“Best city, best fans.”
9:22 p.m. Seconds after an amazing, sprawling save by Binnington, Brayden Schenn scored to put the Blues ahead, 3-0.
9:36 p.m. David Perron makes it 4-0 with a goal.
9:50 p.m. Blues win and the party begins. The familiar steamboat horn that signals a Blues goal at Enterprise Center blared as fans erupt with excitement.
Michael Gerling was at the Enterprise Center when the final seconds counted down a championship.
“My dad has been waiting 50 years for this,” he said. “I can’t imagine how he feels.”
Gerling and his friend, Jeremy Stroot, ran from their seats to the team store at Enterprise Center to be among the first to purchase championship gear. They spent $180.
Ronnie White II and Laura Buck ran from their downtown apartment to revel with the crowd outside the Enterprise Center. White said he’d never been a hockey fan before this year. “I’m so proud of this city. St. Louis needed this,” he said. “These citizens have been waiting for a long time for this kind of joy.”
Chris Malkus and his wife, Danielle, just moved back to St. Louis from Chicago two weeks ago. As a life-long Blues fan, Danielle said, the move couldn’t have been better timed.
“I’m floating with happiness right now,” Chris said. “I’m floating on Cloud 9.”