COLUMBIA — For its game against Illinois on Wednesday night, the Missouri baseball team will leave the familiar confines of Taylor Stadium to play at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
As it prepares for its jump to the Southeastern Conference next year, Missouri will need to get used to playing in larger stadiums.
The Major League Baseball stadium, which holds 46,861 fans, will be a big jump from the Tigers' home, which has about 3,000 seats. While none of the baseball stadiums in the SEC approach major-league size, they are substantially larger than what the Tigers are used to playing in.
The average stadium in the SEC seats 6,249, compared to the Big 12 Conference average of 4,286. As of April 9, five SEC schools were in the top 10 in terms of average attendance, with only Texas and Texas A&M making the list from the Big 12. No Big 12 team outside of Texas made the top 40 on the list.
Louisiana State University leads the nation in average attendance, drawing more than 10,000 fans a game to Alex Box Stadium.
"It's not the stadiums, it's the people in the stadiums," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. "I think it'll be interesting."
Taylor Stadium's seating capacity is among the lowest in the current Big 12, and it will be one of the smallest in the SEC. Kentucky's Cliff Hagan Stadium is around the same size as Taylor Stadium but draws an average crowd of 1,605, much higher than the normal attendance at Missouri's games.
While Jamieson said the game at Busch Stadium should be fun for his players, he also said he hopes the team can get used to playing in more charged atmospheres.
"We've played in that atmosphere, we just don't play in it every weekend like I think we're going to do in the SEC," he said. "If we have the right mentality, it should be a whole lot of fun."
For the time being, Missouri is focused on controlling its excitement for Wednesday's game under the lights of a big-league stadium.
"I expect to have a good time, but Illinois, from what I hear, is a pretty good team this year," shortstop Eric Garcia said. "We've got to not get overwhelmed with the atmosphere we're in, stay competitive and stay focused."
Missouri will face Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Busch Stadium before heading to Oklahoma to continue conference play. General admission tickets for the game in St. Louis are $15.