I got back yesterday from the ADG Convention in Kansas City. There are plenty of photos of beautiful Kauffman Stadium at the end of this post.
I was completely struck at how different Kauffman is compared to every other Major League ballpark I've ever visited. Perhaps the Royals play like a Triple-A team not because they are the Royals, but because everything about the Kansas City baseball experience bleeds minor leagues. The fans at Kauffman (which was about 70% Yankees fans - not a hyperbole) make up the whitest, most comatose crowd of fans in all of baseball. They make the Orange County metrosexuals behind the Angels dugout look like the Bleacher Creatures of Yankee Stadium.
The place is definitely built upon the foundation of Mid-Western family values. One of the guys in my large group was threatened by an usher for using the word "sucks." Jumbotron shenanigans included the Hi-Five Cam, the Jump Cam, and the John Deere tractor race.
They had a Garth Brooks sing-a-long in the 5th inning. Garth fucking Brooks.
And while the Dodgers were blowing an 8-run 8th inning lead in Philadelphia, I was sweating balls in the 100 degree Missouri humidor.
This is not to say that Kauffman Stadium is not a wonderful venue. Fresh off a $250 million renovation a couple years ago, the place is a beautiful and unique ballpark. The famous fountain works in the outfield are now accessible to fans (and lit up during the night, a nice touch). Fountain seats are available where the mist from the between-inning water shows keeps fans cool in the scorching sun. Since the Royals are absolute garbage, I was able to sit in these seats for an inning and must say it is a definite recommendation for an August game.
The stadium seems small and, compared to behemoths like Miller Park and Dodger Stadium, it is. Still it seats 39,000 (less than before the renovation), many of those seats near the field of play. You can walk all the way around the lower concourse behind the fountains, allowing for some interesting sight lines and good photo opportunities. From up above, the highway beyond the outfield is a huge eyesore (not to mention signs for Denny's and Taco Bell in the distance).
While the atmosphere seems minor league, I was surprised to see the concessions and prices were all very, very major league. It seems insulting that the Royals can charge $20 for a seat in the left field upper deck to see the likes of Jason Kendall and Willie Bloomquist. Beer is no cheaper than $7 for a small. Food, while the selection is impressive, is priced just about as heinously as Dodger Stadium. My soft-serve ice cream in a mini KC helmet cost me $6.
Still, despite its flaws (the biggest being the Royals), Kauffman Stadium was a fun experience. Tailgating before the game is a definite (something I wish we could do in LA). Buy a cheap ticket and then sit wherever you like. Even when the Yanks were in town, the stadium was half-empty.
Kauffman Stadium as it looked before the renovation:
Arrowhead Stadium right next door.
First Base Gate
View from Concourse
View from empty first base line seats
Behind Right Field
My Buddy Jim and the famous KC Fountain
Loving the mist