Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Kauffman Stadium 1 Royals Way Kansas City, MO 64129
Year Opened: 1973 Capacity: 37,903
Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City Royals
Major League Baseball first came to Kansas City in 1955 when the Philadelphia Athletics moved west and made Missouri their new home. Kansas City seemed to be more of a layover for the Athletics – their stay lasted just 12 years as they would continue their western trek, ultimately landing in Oakland.
Baseball would return to Kansas City in the 1969 baseball expansion when the Royals were born. Originally playing at Kansas City’s Memorial Stadium just outside of downtown, the Royals would play at Memorial Stadium for just four seasons before moving to the Truman Complex, where Kauffman Stadium would be built for the Royals alongside Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs of the newly merged National Football League.
The Royals would begin play at Kauffman Stadium for the 1972 season, and it has been their home ever since. “The K ”, as it is lovingly called by the Royals faithful, has undergone significant renovations over the years, but the original stadium has remained largely the same.
Food & Beverage 5
When it comes to culinary delights around the United States, Kansas City is renowned for its BBQ. Fans entering Gate D are immediately welcomed to the stadium by the aroma of hickory bellowing from two large smokers, creating meats for the Smoak Craft Barbecue cart on the first base side of the field.
The Tostito’s KC Cantina serves not just nachos, but also a cheese corn brisket acho in a souvenir helmet. Also, almost unexplainably, Chickie’s and Pete’s has brought their popular crab fries to Kansas City – this is just one of their three locations outside of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with the other two being in Reno and Las Vegas.
Followers of the popular YouTube personality Mr. Beast can find the Mr. Beast Burger at Blue Moon Taproom, and for fans of Bar Stool Sports, Pardon My Cheesesteak is also available.
The club level is home to Crafts and Drafts, which pours ten of the Kansas City Boulevard Brewing Company’s beers as a portion of the twenty-five brews on tap, and if the draft beers are not enough, another twenty-five are offered in cans or bottles. Directly next to Crafts and Drafts is Custom Crust Shop, with 9 specialty pizzas and the ability to create your own; even a specialty homestand pizza is offered.
For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, the Kansas City Baking Company serves up not just sweet confections, but also liquid nitrogen ice cream that is customizable. This is the high-end version of Dippin’ Dots, with popularity such that the line just gets longer as the game goes along.
In all, the traditional concessions offered at Kauffman Stadium are a bit run-of-the-mill, but it is their specialty offerings that are top-notch.
The festivities at Kauffman Stadium start before the gates even open. Much like Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox fans, tailgating is commonplace in the parking lots outside of Kauffman Stadiubeforeto game time.
As fans make their way to the facility they are greeted by what feels like a mix of modern meets retro-futuristic design. The newer addition to what would be the front of the stadium, combined with the smooth curves of the stadium’s profile, feels like what the 1950s would think the 2020s might look like.
There are five entry points around the main seating areas of Kauffman Stadium, but Gate A is for season ticket holders only gate, while Gate C enters the Diamond Club, so two of the exterior gates provide limited access. For the most magical impression of the stadium, enter through the right field’s Gate E, which provides an amazing view of green grass contrasted with the royal blue seats, the slope of the ridge of the stadium, and the iconic scoreboard and fountains.
The game is kept as the focal point of the evening, so there are not a lot of events that distract from it. In a bit of a rarity when it comes to entertainment, the Royals use their in-game host sparingly – it is not until the later innings that he starts to introduce fan games and interactive contests. Most of the early innings are instead filled with various fan cams, but the hot dog derby seems to be a fan favorite where mustard, ketchup, and relish hot dogs race around the warning track, from the outfield around to the Royals dugout.
With limited outfield seating and the upper levels of the main seating bowl stacked on top of the field-level seating, Kauffman Stadium has a very cozy feel to it. Even fans in the massive upper level are close to the action on the field – the infield seating is similar to the former home of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field, with suite-level seating sandwiched between the field level and a large upper deck. The layout of the seating is very straightforward, and there are not a lot of limited access areas apart from the “Pepsi Porch” in front of the right field fountains.
In all, the layout of Kauffman Stadium is rather simplistic, and it works well for fans to navigate and find their way to their seats, and food options, or just to take a walk around the stadium.
Kauffman Stadium is directly neighbored by Arrowhead Stadium, which is also part of the Truman Sports Complex. When it comes to pregame meals, entertainment, and lodging in direct proximity to the venue, however, choices are limited, but there are some options further out.
Dixon’s Famous Chili Parlor, renowned for chili they have been serving as their specialty in Kansas City since 1919, would be a great choice for a pregame meal. Or if chili is not your thing, Fuego’s BBQ Mexican Cocina is also a highly-rated BBQ joint in the area.
Kauffman Stadium is situated on the eastern side of Kansas City, just under 8 miles from downtown. One of the can’t-miss stops to accompany a visit to Kauffman Stadium has to be the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; the American Jazz Museum is located directly next to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and a ticket can be purchased for both. While there are plenty of activities to make baseball just a part of a visit to Kansas City, most of these are quite removed from Kauffman Stadium.
For those making Kansas City a stopover on part of a road trip and looking for lodging in the area, there are a limited number of options for hotels, but just across the highway from the stadium are Best Western and Hotel Lotus.
The Royals are near the bottom of the league in average attendance, only drawing more fans than the Oakland A’s and Miami Marlins. Having not finished at .500 since the 2016 season, fans have had good reason to shift their attention across the parking lot to the Chiefs.
Despite smaller attendance numbers, however, the fans who do show up are loyal to their Royals – you see relatively little apparel from the opposing team. Though they may not initiate an increase in their volume, fans are responsive to scoreboard messages to “Get Loud”, and they are responsive to good baseball plays. The fact of the matter is, though, until there is more success on the field, the interest and involvement of the fans will continue to be limited.
The ease of access to Kauffman Stadium depends on several factors, such as the day of the week and how well the Royals are performing. With the only parking concentrated around the stadium, and a limited number of access points, getting in and out of a heavily attended game can be quite a challenge.
Kauffman Stadium’s proximity to the junction of interstates I-70 and I-435 is convenient to simply get to the area of the stadium. The concourses of the suite level and 300-level seating are also much more open than the main level concourse.
If entering the stadium through what most might consider the main entrance, Gate D, the concourse is rather narrow throughout the infield seating area of the main level. The concourse opens significantly once reaching the outer reaches of the walkway – once at the outfield, this openness continues all around from the left field line, around the outfield until reaching the main seating area again.
Return on Investment 4
The Royals offer one of the most affordable tickets in Major League Baseball. Weekday tickets (Monday thru Thursday) start at just $10, and weekend tickets (Friday thru Sunday) begin at $20. Service fees are also minimal regardless of the price of the ticket. Parking will set fans back $20.
All-in-all, it will be hard to find a more affordable evening of Major League Baseball when factoring in ticket prices, parking, and concessions.
The fountains of Kauffman Stadium are one of the most iconic features in all of baseball. Though they are probably not in the same historical lore as Fenway’s Green Monster or the ivy of Wrigley Field, the fountains are truly one of the special features in Major League Baseball.
Another feature that might be just as tied to the history of Kauffman Stadium are the fountains in the outfield and the scoreboard shaped to resemble a shield topped with a crown. Though it has received several upgrades over the years, the staple of the Kauffman Stadium backdrop has remained the most majestic scoreboard in baseball.
The Royals Hall of Fame is prominently featured behind the visiting team dugout in left field, offering free admission until the start of the 8th inning. The hall not only honors the heroes of the organization but also takes fans through the history of baseball in Kansas City.
There is an extremely popular kids' play area behind the outfield concourse that stretches from left field around to right center. Kids have a baseball field they can take swings at, play in the water of a splash pad, ride Royals-themed merry-go-round, or play miniature golf, just to name a few of the activities.
Several of the support beams around the lower concourse are wrapped in the history of the organization, featuring the accomplishments of individual players or pivotal wins in the franchise’s history.
Kauffman Stadium is a comfortable place to watch baseball; the Royals have done well to keep an aging stadium from feeling run down. However, with new stadium plans on the horizon, are the fans in Kansas City possibly enjoying the twilight of baseball at Kauffman Stadium? This very well could be, but give the Royals a lot of credit for not just maintaining the stadium, but continuously tailoring it for the desired experience of different fans.
The reality is there is a high probability Kauffman Stadium will soon be replaced, but in the meantime, it continues to provide an enjoyable ballpark experience, whether you are a diehard Royals fan attending 70-plus games a season, or enjoying an evening out with baseball as the backdrop.