ST LOUIS NORTH AMERICA’S BEST COLLEGE SPORT CITY
ST LOUIS CONVENTION AND VISITORS COMMISSION
Sports – all types of sports – are not just a pastime in St. Louis. They are considered to be an obsession. Where else in this vast country can you stop a grandmother at random on the street and have an in-depth discussion about earned run averages, shots on goal and quarterback ratings?
St. Louis is recognized as one of the most active sports centers in the USA and St. Louisans are noted for their support of Cardinals baseball, the hockey Blues, the NFL’s Rams and local university team.
St. Louisans think their community deserves it every year, but the editors and readers of The Sporting News made it official from August 2000 through July 2001, naming St. Louis as North America’s Best Sports City. The national sports publication cited St. Louis’ success on the field as well as fan support, quality of sporting venues, positive media attention and sports ambience in making their selection. Sports publications also consistently declare St. Louis as America’s best baseball city.
Sports fans can look forward to even more significant athletic events this year and in St. Louis’ future.
The prestigious USA Women’s Marathon Championship will be held on Saturday, April 5 when the country’s best female long-distance runners compete for a national title on a course in Forest Park – site of the 1904 Olympic Games. On Sunday, April six, runners of all abilities can participate in the 3rd Spirit of St. Louis Marathon, which begins and ends in downtown St. Louis. A half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K run/walk, children’s fun runs and a health and fitness expo are also part of the weekend activities. In 2004, the U.S. Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials will be held in St. Louis. That race will decide which athletes will make the U.S. Olympic team.
The excitement of college football returns to downtown St. Louis on Labor Day Weekend in 2003 when Mizzou-Illinois football is played at the Edward Jones Dome.
More than sixty-thousand passionate fans electrified the Dome in a bowl-like atmosphere in 2002 when the rivals met for the 1st time in years.
The special sports events don’t stop in 2003. St. Louis again hosts the NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional basketball tournament at the Edward Jones Dome in 2004. In 2005, the road to the Final 4 leads to St. Louis when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship will be decided on the Dome’s basketball court, April 2 and 4, 2005. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships will also be held in St. Louis in 2006.
When you’re in St. Louis, be sure to wear your team colors and mingle with the best fans in America.
St. Louis has a rich and storied sports history. Among the notable highlights:
- The St. Louis Sports Commission was chosen by the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) as the “Sports Commission of the Year” for 2002. St. Louis continued a century-old tradition of making major news in the world of sports when the St. Louis Rams became the champions of the 1st Super Bowl of the millennium. It’s the 1st time in history that a St. Louis team played in the NFL championship event. The Rams clinched the world championship title on January 30, 2000 with a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV.Football fans voted St. Louis’ victory as the “best Super Bowl ever” according to a CNNSI.com poll. The Rams won the NFC Championship again in the 2001 season and returned to Super Bowl XXXVI.Baseball history was made in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in 1998 when St. Louis Cardinal slugger Mark McGwire hit a record seventy home runs during a single season.In 1906, Saint Louis University quarterback Bradbury Robinson threw the 1st forward pass in the history of football. It was caught by tight end Jack Schneider.The Women’s International Bowling Congress was started in St. Louis in 1916.In 1920, St. Louis-born George H. Walker put up a trophy for competition between US and British golfers. The Walker Cup, contested every other year, is still one of golf’s most prestigious prizes.
St. Louis is recognized as 1 of the most active sports centers in the country. St. Louisans are noted for their support of the baseball Cardinals, the hockey Blues, the NFL’s Rams, the indoor soccer Ambush and Steamers and local university teams. The Aces team tennis franchise expanded St. Louis’ sports offerings. Minor league franchises include the Frontier League’s River City Rascals baseball club, the International Basketball League’s St. Louis Swarm and the United Hockey League’s Missouri River Otters. Racing fans find their thrills with an impressive schedule of auto racing at Gateway International Raceway. Amateur soccer and boxing programs in St. Louis are known throughout the USA. And, in 2001, baseball’s Frontier League welcomed the Gateway Grizzlies to the area.
In 1994, St. Louis hosted the United States Olympic Festival (USOF) which was called “outstanding” and the “best ever” by US Olympic Committee officials. The St. Louis festival broke twenty USOF records including total attendance in excess of 515,000 people and total event ticket sales at more than $2.84 million.
Some of the most successful athletes in the world were raised and trained in the St. Louis area: Jimmy Connors, former Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis champion and number one player in the world; Olympic medalist in distance running; Marty Hogan, Craig Virgin, world racquetball champion; Michael and Leon Spinks, World Heavyweight boxing champions; Hale Irwin, former U.S. Open golf champion; Ivory Crockett, former world sprinting champion; Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic track and field star; and baseball’s Yogi Berra, 3-time American League Most Valuable Player.
- The St. Louis Cardinals were the only team in baseball to win three pennants in the 1980’s and have won more World Series championships (9) than any other National League team. St. Louis is known as a savvy baseball town so much so that in 2000 Sports Illustrated called it “America’s best baseball city” and in 1998 Baseball America magazine also named St. Louis as America’s Best Baseball City.
- One of baseball’s all-time greats, Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial, played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals. Musial, who still lives and works in St. Louis, has a career batting average of .331, a career total of 3,630 hits, was named National League Most Valuable Player three times and played in the All-Star Game 19 times. Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
- In 1904, St. Louis was the site of the third Olympic games of modern times and the first ever held in the United States. During the games, runner George Coleman Poage was the first African-American to appear in Olympic competition. The 1904 Olympics were held on the campus of Washington University, which also hosted the first-ever U.S. National Senior Olympics in 1987.St. Louis is the site of the International Bowling Museum and Cardinals Hall of Fame, located across the street from Busch Stadium. The facility is dedicated to portraying the history of the sport of bowling from ancient to modern times. It also features displays on the heroes and history of baseball in St. Louis including the St. Louis Browns and Negro League teams.St. Louis hosted the first major horse show in the country, the St. Louis Horse Show, as the main event of a fair in 1856. The St. Louis National Charity Horse Show, held annually in the early fall, is rated among the top three horse shows in the nation.The St. Louis Blues are the only NHL team to appear in the playoffs every year in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Since joining the National Hockey League in 1967, the Blues have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs only three times. The team takes to the ice at the 20,000-seat Savvis Center in downtown St. Louis.
- Thirty-seven Cardinals plus broadcaster Jack Buck and former broadcaster Harry Caray have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, NY.
- Saint Louis University has won 10 NCAA Division I soccer titles and St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley has won seven national junior college titles, each more than any other school. In addition, the University of Missouri-St. Louis has won an NCAA Division II championship; St. Louis Community College at Meramec has won two national junior college titles; and, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in suburban St. Louis, playing with many St. Louis athletes, has won two national soccer championships.
- With All-American Ed Macauley playing center, the Saint Louis University Basketball Billikens won the National Invitation Tournament Championship in 1948. In 1989, the Billikens again reached the championship game of the NIT and were Conference USA champions in 2000.
- The old St. Louis Arena hosted the 1973 and 1978 NCAA basketball Final 4 and served as host for several NCAA regional championships. The 1998 men’s regional’s were held in St. Louis at Savvis Center and returned in 1999 taking the court at The Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center.
- The Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center holds the attendance record for an NCAA Regional event. More than 42,400 fans jammed the Dome for each of the tournament’s 3 games that took place in St. Louis on March 19 and 20, 1999.
- 15 baseball Cardinals have won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Stan Musial was a 3-time winner.
- Lou Brock, who retired in 1979 after sixteen seasons with the Cardinals, held the National League record for stolen bases in a career (938) for many years.
- Football’s greatest tight end, Hall of Famer Jackie Smith is a resident of St. Louis. Much of his illustrious career was spent with the Cardinals in St. Louis.
Dan Dierdorf, a recent inductee into the Football Hall of Fame, is also a resident of St. Louis. A former broadcaster for the ABC television network, Dierdorf was a key player for the St. Louis Football Cardinals.The top drivers from the NASCAR and the NHRA circuits make tracks each year at St. Louis’ Gateway International Raceway.In 1900, St. Louisan Dwight Davis donated a trophy, the Davis Cup, which is still the most prized team award in tennis.On November 15, 1999, the St. Louis Sports Commission named Stan Musial and Jackie Joyner-Kersee “St. Louis Athletes of the Century.”
- The 2000 NCAA Division one Wrestling Championships held at St. Louis’ Savvis Center, March 15-18, 2000, sold the most all-session tickets in the sixty-nine-year history of the event. The record-breaking attendance surpassed the previous record set in 1997 when 90,064 people watched the championship matches.
- The St. Louis Blues NHL hockey club was awarded the President’s Trophy for finishing with the best regular season record (51-20-11-1) during the 1999-2000 season. Blues’ coach Joel Quenneville received the Jack Adams “Coach of the Year” Award, becoming the 3rd coach in Blues history to win that honor. Other Blues recipients were Coach Brian Sutter and Red Berenson. Blues’ players honored that same season included Pavol Demitra and Chris Pronger. Demitra brought home the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship; Pronger was named both MVP and best defenseman in the NHL to garner the Hart and Norris trophies.
- Saint Louis University’s Billikens won the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2000.
- The St. Louis Swarm won the first International Basketball League Championship in 2000.
- Washington University’s women’s basketball team won their 3rd straight NCAA D-III title in 2000.
- Attendance records were set and some shattered by St. Louis sports teams and events in 2000. The St. Louis Blues finished in the top 5 in NHL league attendance. Saint Louis University Men’s Billiken basketball ranked in the Top twenty in average attendance among all NCAA D-I schools. St. Louis’ River City Rascals minor league baseball team set a Frontier League single-season attendance record and was named “Organization of the Year.” The new Missouri River Otters minor league hockey team set a UHL regular season attendance record by an expansion team. The NCAA Wrestling Championships held in St. Louis set an all-time total attendance record of 96,994. And, the John Hancock U.S. Gymnastics Championships held at St. Louis’ Savvis Center set an all-time U.S. Gymnastics Championships ticket sales mark. 2 evenings of that competition were broadcast on national television and became the 2 top-rated television sports programs of the week.
- The St. Louis Cardinals won the National League Central Division Championship in 2000. That same season, the Redbirds enjoyed the highest regular season attendance figures in the National League, hosting 3.3 million fans at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. The team also drew at least three millions fans in 1998 and 1999.
- 1 of the premiere college sporting events in the national will be held in St. Louis when the NCAA Men’s Final 4 Division I college basketball championship comes to the Edward Jones Dome at America’s Center in 2005.