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Cardinals play home opener before sellout crowd

(photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

By AP/St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – It's an unofficial holiday in St. Louis today as the Cardinals play their home opener.

The Redbirds face the Houston Astros at 3:15 before a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium.

Despite the down economy, business boosters in St. Louis say the Cardinals will continue to have a major economic impact on the region.

Dick Fleming of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association says team officials realized early on that many fans may not have as much disposable income.

"They have a much broader array of ticket options in terms of affordability for families," Fleming said.

St. Louis city officials are also making it a bit easier for Cardinals fans.

They're waiving tickets at many downtown parking meters before, during and after the game.

And for a few lucky fans, there will be free parking at 100 specially marked meters around the Ballpark Hilton.