Storm damages Busch Stadium; Cards-Braves delayed

Updated: July 20, 2006, 1:13 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Thirty people were injured as high wind blew out press box windows, overturned portable concession stands and ripped the tarp at new Busch Stadium right before the start of Wednesday night's game between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.

AP Photo/Bill BoyceThe St. Louis grounds crew tries to control the tarp during a storm prior to Wednesday's game.

Five fans were taken to hospitals, according to Norm Corley, a supervisor with Accu-Care, which handles medical issues at the stadium. One of them had a dislocated hip, another a dislocated shoulder, two had back injuries and a fifth had a seizure apparently unrelated to the storm, Corley said.

The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 12 minutes as crews righted the concession stands, cleaned up debris and mopped flooded areas.

"This is the worst," said longtime fan Carol Backs-Wenneman of nearby St. Libory, Ill. "I was wondering if the new stadium would hold up."

Right after the national anthem, dark clouds moved over the ballpark and dust began swirling 20 feet in the air. Several fans could be heard yelling as they scattered for cover.

As the wind got harder and louder, about half of the plastic window sheets protecting the open-air press box popped out of place. At least one of them -- about 10 feet wide and 5 feet high -- flew into the stands. The other sheets toppled into the box.

The usher guarding the press box and several fans hung onto guard rails for safety when the wind was at its strongest.

"I was hanging on for dear life," usher Linda McGuire said. "The rain was hitting us so hard it felt like needles."

Reporters huddled for safety in a stairwell behind the press box, where there was standing water in the front row.

"We all ran for cover," said Carl Thibodeux, usher chief for the upper deck. "That wind was something else. It was scary there for a while."

The tarp was brought to cover the field before the rain began. The wind whipped it and caused a sizable tear near home plate, and later the grounds crew tore off a 10-foot piece.

The $365 million ballpark opened this season in a lot adjacent to the old Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals spent the previous four decades.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press