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Storm damages Busch Stadium; Cards-Braves delayed

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.

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.