The United States returns to St. Louis tonight after a nearly 20 year absence, and they're doing it at a baseball stadium. The St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium is the site for the U.S. vs. St. Vincent and Grenadines, which is the Americans' first 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Playing in a baseball stadium makes for some oddities, most notably putting grass over the infield and mound. It doesn't look great.
what a fantastic venue to kick-off the WC Qualifying tomorrow night ! pic.twitter.com/hi1PHGodni— Jürgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) November 13, 2015
There's no word yet on how the grass plays, especially over the infield. It's possible that it performs just fine, but looks awful. There's no doubting that it looks awful, though.
It's still unclear what the size of the field is. One of the problems with baseball stadiums is the playing surface isn't made for the sport and a full size pitch doesn't fit so they have to play on a shorter or narrower pitch -- of course, one that still meets FIFA regulations, it just isn't ideal.
St. Louis used to be a great home for the United States national team, but when the Yanks outgrew the 5,500 seat St. Louis Soccer Park, the city didn't have a venue to host them anymore. The Americans were too big for the small venue, but not quite big enough for the 66,000 seat Edward Jones Dome (which also has turf).
The solution is Busch Stadium, which looks to be a nice sized venue at 45,000. It's sold out and it should make for a good atmosphere, but the playing surface may be a problem, the size is unknown and the sightlines are hardly ideal. We'll see how it goes.