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Inaugurated on April 10, 1973, Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium is the longtime home of the Kansas City Royals. Simply known as "The K" or "Kauffman" to regulars, it is located at the Truman Sports Complex along with the Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium.
Though the Royals have arguably been Major League Baseball's most downtrodden franchise since their lone World Series win in 1985, one would hardly know it given Kauffman's tremendous combination of originality and amenities new and old. Already one of the most unique venues in baseball, The K underwent a massive face-lift completed in time for Opening Day 2009. Given the fantastic new additions to a ballpark that already carried a solid reputation, it's no surprise Kansas City was selected to host July's 2012 MLB All-Star Game.
Led by an abnormally large group of talented youngsters, the Royals look poised for a long-awaited playoff berth within the near future. Their coming success should be met with open arms by fans across the country, as a venue like Kauffman Stadium deserves not just an All-Star Game, but a national spotlight for a wealth of October baseball.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
That the available concessions are arguably the most impressive aspect of a stadium experience would be a bad sign for most. Not at The K, though, as its selection of food and drink no doubt rates among the best in baseball, and all sporting venues across the country.
Typical food and drink fare like hot dogs, bratwursts, and the like are available at every turn and are reasonably priced. What makes the concessions at Kauffman special, though, is its wide selection of KC-born favorites. Signature sandwiches like the KC Ribeye Steak and Royals' Pork T ($10.50 each, but worth it) combine traditional stadium food with local flare that makes Kansas City "cowtown." All-Star BBQ serves classic hometown dishes like burnt ends and a half rack of ribs ($16, but feeds more than one), while Boulevard Brewing Company stands offer the best beer in the midwest. Topsy's Popcorn and Sheridan's Frozen Custard are two local options for those with a sweet tooth, while Rivals Sports Bar "" a 150 seat restaurant located high in right-field "" makes eating at the ballpark seem like a night out on the town.
Surprisingly, the overall atmosphere at Kauffman Stadium was barely diminished by the Royals' non-existent postseason hopes. Instead, everyone in the stadium young and old seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The newly renovated outfield portion of The K was especially vibrant. The Royals Hall of Fame was crowded, the Bud Light Party Zone was packed with people eating and drinking, children loved playing putt-putt, "running the bases", and the merry-go-round, while the outfield's huge fountains provided a special and unique element to baseball. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more entertainment-filled area than Kauffman's outfield, and it no doubt played a special role in finally bringing the All-Star Game to KC.
Fans were engaged in play on the field as well as stadium promotions shown on one of the biggest high-definition LED screens in the world, located in center field. On a crisp autumn night, there were few at The K who'd have rather been anywhere else.
For a Chiefs game, the Truman Sports Complex offers anything you'd want for a tailgating experience. What has to be one of the biggest parking lots in the country amidst pure isolation makes for an all-encompassing NFL experience. As tailgating isn't exactly a storied baseball tradition, the area surrounding the Sports Complex leaves much to be desired for the Royals. Some fans take advantage of the space surrounding the stadium and eat/drink outside their cars before gametime, but such activity is sparse and hardly worth mentioning. In short, Kauffman Stadium's neighborhood is a lone black eye on what is otherwise a great experience.
Some of Kansas City's senior sports fanatics "" unbeknownst to most "" characterize it as a "baseball town." Watching a game in Kauffman Stadium, it's easy to see why they feel that way.
The crowd hangs on every pitch, reacting with fervor to each called ball and strike. When the Royals strike offensively, fans go wild and yearn for more. Despite a small attendance number, this was a crowd that was clearly educated and loved the game.
The fun had at The K was obviously not just due to the stadium itself. The fans, of course, contributed a great deal to an atmosphere that would be appreciated by a baseball fanatic or a first-timer looking to catch a foul ball.
Truman Sports Complex is surrounded by two major interstate highways, and is also accessible by multiple service roads. The huge parking lot makes for easy parking, and approaching or exiting the Sports Complex is equally care-free.
Once inside Kauffman Stadium, finding your seat and anything else is done with ease. A large concourse encircles the bottom portion of the stadium, while escalators and circular walkways lead to The K's upper levels.
The only negative with regard to access is the abnormally deep and wide steps on the stadium's lower level. In between innings and other times of heavy traffic, this often leads to some backup in the aisles as the stairs are relatively difficult to traverse.
In general, the prices of tickets and concessions at Kauffman Stadium align consistently with those of other parks around Major League Baseball. Considering recent updates and the fact that it's surely among the league's best venues, that speaks well to getting great bang for your buck.
Buying a "walk-up" ticket, though, might as well amount to stealing. Most every game, it's possible to walk up to an office at The K and purchase a seat for the paltry price of $9. Your seat won't be along the third base line or in the fountains, but for a stadium with good sight-lines and a seemingly endless amount of extra entertainment activities, that hardly matters.
A $9 ticket or not, a trip to Kauffman Stadium is more than worth the price of admission.
Where to begin?
The outfield alone deserves four extra points. The videoboard and fountains make Kauffman Stadium one of the most aesthetically unique in all of sports, while the countless number of activities for children and Bud Light Party Deck ensure that fans of all ages and interests will have a great time at The K.
Kauffman Stadium's myriad of food and drink choices deserves an extra mention, as well, as it surely rates as one of the best in all of professional sports.
Any quality trip to Kauffman Stadium requires a stop at one of the city's many Barbecue restaurants; in the vicinity of the K the options only get sweeter.
If you're coming from the southern portion of the Metro area, one should consider hitting up LC's Bar-B-Q at 5800 Blue Parkway. Their self-described tangy home style sauce provides great flavor for any of your meaty favorites. Ribs, beef, pork, turkeyâ?¦you can't go wrong.
While LC's is great, Arthur Bryant's at 1727 Brooklyn Avenue is other-worldly. Evidence of Politicians, athletes and actors being hosted at the restaurant is draped on the walls. Any restaurant this historic deserves respect, and when you taste the meats from their aged smoker you'll recognize why. Again, order anything on the menu but be prepared for tremendous portion.
After pre-game preparations, it's time to see the new K; in the midst of a midlife crisis, Kauffman Stadium had a facelift. While many of these butcher jobs are obvious patchworks, this overhaul resulted in seamless rejuvenation. Perks like a sports bar, hall-of-fame and expanded vending options were added. An entire "Outfield Experience" was constructed in a former dead-space area; it is equipped with standing room views within the famous outfield fountains, new seating, kids play area with a mini-Kauffman Stadium to play on, a tremendous HD video board, picnic area sporting famous Kansas City barbecue, and bars in both left and right field. If all of that isn't enough, the new K boasts mini-HDTV's by concession stands, new monuments and more frequent and cleaner - albeit more cumbersome - restrooms throughout.
Among all these new perks, the two biggest additions to the stadium were the Hall-of-Fame in left field and Rivals Sports Bar in right field. The Hall-of-Fame boasts several uniquely Kansas City pieces of memorabilia like George Brett's "pine tar incident" bat, Brett Saberhagen's hat from his no-hitter and the 1985 World Series Trophy.
Rivals Sports Bar boasts a full menu bar from its view in right - above the unique bullpen the stadium has possessed since its inception. The lower level is open to the public every game and the upper deck is available for large parties - when it is not rented the public is free to use it. If you are lucky enough to snag a table in Rivals, you are guaranteed to have a good view of the ballgame. Additionally, the pre and post game shows are anchored from there
Kauffman has always been home of one of the most beautiful fields in baseball. Even when the Astroturf was rolled out, head groundskeeper George Toma kept it neatly swept. Once the grass came back to Kansas City, the K was immediately upgraded. Unfortunately, what followed was the plastering of tacky sponsor signs around the outfield wall reminiscent of a Minor League ballpark. That, as much as anything else, made this recent revamping necessary. Since advertising is essential in this modern sports age, several video boards were installed that flash advertisements and game information while the number of billboards and banners has been reduced allowing attention to refocus on the striking field.
My visit to Kauffman was about 3 years ago, and my most vivid memories are of Arthur Bryant's BBQ, and not the ballpark. That doesn't mean its a bad place to see a game, it just means there isn't anything that sticks with you. Maybe it's just a good excuse to go back again.
On business in the area and went to catch a game. Walk up ticket was dirt cheap, $20 and 7 rows up behind home plate. Great concessions and atmospehere, especially at its age. Only problem is the place is surrounded by a whole bunch of nothing. All in all, a surprisingly good stadium and experience.
1616 E. 18th St
Kansas City, MO 64108