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KAUFMANN STADIUM. | metsgrrl.com



Kaufmann Stadium is not one of those stadiums you’re supposed to have any special affinity for. It’s the home of the Royals, for heaven’s sake, who haven’t been a household name – even in Kansas City – for years. But it became a quirky favorite quickly.

[The Flickr set is here.]

Kaufmann is under massive construction. It was one of the earliest HOK ballparks, and they’re now expanding it by simply extending the existing design, putting in new seats, and adding additional seating sections (including the inevitable suites behind home plate). It’s an old stadium, but it’s got a wide open concourse just above field level. It was airy and inviting and I thought it had a lot of personality. I was glad they weren’t knocking it down to build some new cookie cutter park. However, the construction meant that there were no ballpark tours available.


You have to drive to Kaufmann. It’s on the east side of KC, almost near Independence. Yes, there are hotels nearby, and you can scramble down the embankment like I saw some people doing, but it’s such a hike that you might as well just drive. If you’re coming during construction, you’ll have to choose whether you want to park on the 1st base side or the 3rd base side – be sure you check the web site before you go. We parked on the first base side and came out on the third base side and needed 5 minutes of directions to find our way back to the correct side of the lot.

In the outfield, there’s the infamous water feature. It’s a big fountain with colored lights and coordinated jets of water between innings. I found it charming in the extreme.


Also in the outfield is the new star of Kaufmann Stadium, the new video board. And when I say “new video board” let me explain that I’m talking about something like this:


Which gave you this kind of detail during the game:


The player intros were AWESOME on this screen. High tech, professionally produced, it made anything we have at Shea look like something produced by your high school AV geeks.


We were able to get right behind the visitor’s dugout for BP. The gates opened at 5:30, and the Royals take BP at 5, so you lose out there if you’re actually a Royals fan. As noted above, the Royals were playing the Rangers (no, the irony of seeing the Rangers THREE TIMES in one year was not lost on us). Believe it or not, I was able to get Josh Hamilton’s autograph on one of my tarp sliding photos:

Josh hamilton At BP. success

Ian Kinsler was on the DL and I was not able to get anyone else to sign (and I hate getting autographs and am so not cut out for this whole thing).

Although we are not fans of the electronic walls in the outfield (dammit, the out of town scoreboard should be visible ALL THE TIME, not just during innings), we liked the clock counting down to first pitch:


Clearly it’s not just the Mets bullpen that enforces the pink backpack rule.

The food options at Kaufmann were fairly standard, except for the presence of Gates BBQ:


*at the ballpark*. If you know your BBQ, you will understand the significance of Gates being here. (We prefer Bryant’s, but still.) There were also local ice cream options, which we enjoyed. (It’s all about the frozen custard in the midwest.)

The Royals’ mascot is Sluggerrr (no relation), a lion with a crown. We liked him quite a bit and found him to be personable and friendly. He circulated within the crowd freely during the game, although he did not show up on the outer plaza as security had advised us before the game (at least that we could find). We did not explore hard enough to find a Sluggerrr for our mascot collection, and settled for a small plastic figure – only to find five different size stuffed versions at another stand.


We walked up day of game and got seats in Section 119, which was half a section over from the visitor’s dugout. They were fine seats, the kind of seats you would never, ever be able to roll up and buy gameday at Shea – and nor would they cost you $37. They were highly comfortable and enjoyable seats, and the legroom was expansive. We enjoyed the seats so much that we almost stayed for the entire game, even though the Royals coughed it up big time to the Rangers, and the small fact that we were starving by the 8th inning.


The sound system at the ballpark is awesome and the music is modern and appropriate. There was some old tired and boring Kansas and Boston before the game, but during the game it was rockin’. And before you start on whether or not it’s appropriate, their singalong isn’t to some old and tired Neil Diamond song, it features a 100 ft. high Garth Brooks – wearing a Royals jersey – on the video screen. It didn’t seem like a lot of people sang along to the song, but it was a nice moment. Despite being advertised as happening – and maybe it happens if the Royals actually win – there was no playing of “Kansas City,” to our utter disappointment.

There is no Kiss Cam in Kansas City. There is a “Hug Cam” instead. That said a lot about the area to us.

Ushers were friendly and helpful (then again they seem to be everywhere except New York (yes, either stadium), and that includes Philly). The fans appeared interested and engaged and there wasn’t a whole lot of walking around. (There weren’t a whole lot of fans in the park, though, either.) A moron a few rows in front of us got a little drunk and refused to sit down, and security came, escorted him out of the section, and then gave him the option of sitting somewhere else if they wanted to remain and watch the game. The guy wasn’t dangerous, just an idiot showing off in front of a girl, and that was actually the correct response. But you know what would have happened at home.

Someone did get up and yell at Milton Bradley a few times, to the tune of “Milton, you’re a – HOTHEAD!” Oooooooh! I’m sure that made Milton shudder.

Overall, it was a highly enjoyable experience and I’d definitely want to go back if there was a reason to be in the middle of America ever again.

If you find yourself in KC, make sure you make time for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. That’s going to get a separate post from me, but I wanted to mention it here as well. And for the love of all that is good and holy, be sure you have some barbeque, somewhere.


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