This blog is dedicated to Kansas City Royals baseball. I get that not every Royals fan or Kansas Citian loves Royals baseball like I do. For some KC sports fans, baseball is just a diversion, something to take the kids to on a Sunday afternoon or a medium to hang out with old college or high school friends and get drunk off of Bud Light, White Claws or 360 vodka (lord knows what former KU sorority girls drink nowadays) while playing drinking games in the parking lot.
But for baseball fans who are passionate and obsessed with the game, the entire experience counts, and even though I have been to a good amount of Major League (as well as other professional sports) stadiums, a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium still ranks up there in terms of the “baseball fan” experience.
I have been to two games already this season, and my I am chomping at the bit to see more Royals baseball. I wish I could go to more, even though I will be out of Kansas City all of July…I will have some catching up to do in August and September.
So, here are 10 reasons why a game at Kauffman is one of the best experience in sports.
#10: The Chill Tailgate Culture
I am not trying to be a Kansas City Chief “hater” by any means, but I cannot attend Chiefs games anymore. There are a lot of reasons why Chiefs games don’t have much of an allure for me: the NFL in general, the overly drunk and rowdy fans, over-expensive tickets and parking, etc. But one thing that stands out to me is the tailgate culture between Chiefs games and Royals games. Though there are exceptions (I remember a few years ago some high schoolers were rowdy drunk in the parking lot pregame of a Royals evening contest), for the most part, Royals tailgates are casual, chill affairs. People take it a bit slower, and the Royals pregame parking lot vibe is one of a laid back summer BBQ rather than the intense “Let’s get rowdy for us to play the Broncos!” aura of Chiefs Sundays.
#9: Reasonable ticket prices
I get some people may say “Hey! 19 bucks for view reserved isn’t a good deal!” and I would agree. But the Royals offer a lot of great deals via the MLB Ballpark app or other mediums. So it’s rare that you will pay the full amount more than once or twice. Check in to a game via the MLB Ballpark App, and you get 50% off tickets for the next game, making a 19 dollar ticket less than 10 bucks. Student nights also produce under $10 tickets, and the secondary market can also provide great deals. Yes, tickets are a lot easier to come by due to the Royals’ lousy record and outlook for the 2019 season, but you can’t complain about tickets (which you can easily get on the day of a game) when it comes to seeing a Royals game.
#8: There is a local KC flair to the gameday experience
Whether it’s the Boulevard Craft and Draft area, BBQ available in nearly every section, The Price Chopper Patio, etc. everything feels distinctly Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. That is not an easy feat to do. If you go to Oakland Alameda County Stadium, everything about the Oakland A’s baseball experience feels pretty generic, as if you could get there what you could get at any Major or Minor League ballpark in the country. As for Kauffman though, you know you are in Kansas City from the minute you park your car. Whether it’s walking to the park and being serenaded with a local singer belting his pipes with local saxophone accompaniment near the front of the stadium, in the stadium itself, engorging a KC batting helmet of brisket nachos or in the upper deck Boulevard Beer Garden taking down a Boulevard beer (Vamos is my choice for Royal games), the Kauffman Stadium experience always feels distinctly Kansas City.
#7: The Royals Hall of Fame is something to behold…especially for baseball fans
I have talked about the Royals Hall of Fame before in a previous rendition of this blog, but I will say it again: the Royals Hall of Fame is one of the best exhibits in a Major League Stadium…period. Every time I go and visit, I find myself getting lost or engrossed in another aspect of Royals history. If you can and are a person who appreciates baseball, history and the combination of the two to the max, get to the ballpark as early as possible so you can spend adequate enough time in the Hall of Fame. Here are few things that captured my attention span before first pitch:
#6: There’s not a bad view in the ballpark
I was able to sit in the View Box section which was about five bucks more than View Reserved and it made a great difference. That being said, even in View Reserved, the view of Royals games is great. If you go to some parks like Oracle Park in San Francisco, the upper decks are so high up that the view is pointless. I remember being blocked by a foul pole for nine innings in a boring contest against the Colorado Rockies as an 8th grade kid. While Kauffman may be smaller capacity wise, they did so in order to ensure that every person has a great view of the game, and the Royals organization should be commended for that.
#5: Royals fans are a chill and respectful bunch in the seats
Maybe it’s due to a bad season, and all the bandwagon fans who expect Royals games to be “Summer Chiefs” games aren’t in attendance. But the past couple of years, I have noticed Royals fans being a classy bunch. Even with a good amount of White Sox fans in attendance on Sunday afternoon and an even greater amount of Red Sox fans filling up Kauffman on Thursday afternoon, there wasn’t any crap between fans in the stands. Royals fans were pretty respectful, cheered and gloated when they had to, and didn’t escalate things when the opponent did well (which was on frequent occasion). This even extended to the workers, as a couple of workers in the Craft and Draft section (Chuck and Lori) were not only affable and helpful to us as Royals fan bystanders, but also with the local White Sox (Chuck had a theory going that if the opposing team scores first, they will beat the Royals; Chuck wasn’t wrong). Maybe this “politeness” can be credit to Royals fans being beat down after two poor seasons, but it made the games an enjoyable experience to go to as a baseball fan, for there weren’t any shenanigans in the stands that soured the baseball experience.
#4: Baseball is fun to watch…especially the Royals
I get it. You don’t have Patrick Mahomes throwing touchdowns or LeBron James slamming the ball down. Baseball is not the kind of sport where your attention needs to be focused 100 percent of the time unlike other pro sports like football or basketball or hockey. However, the more you pay attention to, the greater you appreciate the game. It’s something to behold when you witness Jorge Soler rip into a home run swing. Eloy Jimenez’s size and athleticism only stands out more in person, even way up in the stands. Mookie Betts connecting with a ball despite his size baffles common sense. Billy Hamilton swiping a base with ease is a brief, exhilarating experience. And Nicky Lopez going airborne to snag a line drive gives Royals hope that he can indeed be the second-baseman of the future…or at least the next few years. Maybe there isn’t the sheer, continued excitement of other sporting events, but for those who appreciate the game, when you pay attention at the right moments, baseball is pretty damn fun.
#3: The aesthetics of the ballpark are pretty amazing
There’s a lot to love about the ballpark itself: the outfield section is spacious and rife with activities and attractions from the little ballpark and playground for the kids to the courtyard that sometimes has a live band playing; the food options are underrated (especially the newly acquired “Chickie and Petes”…KC folks, get yourself to the K to get some damn Crab Fries!); the fountains beyond the outfield fence that give the K it’s signature stadium look to baseball heads; the monuments to famous Royals like George Brett, Frank White and Dick Howser (along with the Kauffman Family) demonstrate the baseball history and importance of the Royals to KC. Even if you buy a standing room ticket, you can be easily entertained walking around and sinking in everything around you within Kauffman’s confines. Not a lot of ballparks do a great job of combining history and family-friendly attractions. Either ballparks feel dated or fake and over-saturated. However, Kauffman finds that nice balance which caters to baseball fans of all walks of life.
#2: Kauffman Stadium is an amalgamation of the Midwest
The Royals do not just represent Kansas City. They do not represent just Missouri, unlike the Cardinals, who in my opinion are more “Missouri’s” team. While for Kansas Citians on the Missouri side, that statement may be blasphemous. But on the flip side, I think it’s a good thing: Kansas City is more than Missouri, and represents may parts of the Midwest including all of Kansas, and parts of Nebraska and Iowa. People come from all over the Midwest to attend a Royals game: from Garden City, Kansas to Omaha to Des Moines to Southern Missouri and even parts of Northwest Arkansas. At a Giants game, it’s mostly, if not all Californians. At a Diamondbacks game, it’s all Arizonans. At a Tigers game, it’s mostly Michigan Men and Women. But at a Royals game, it’s meeting and engagement of all from different areas of the heartland of the Midwest, all there to partake, share and enjoy in the game of baseball.
#1: Yet…the Royals and Kauffman Stadium ARE Kansas City
Being a Royals fan is an exercise in both patience and flexibility. You have to constantly be adjusting as a fan of the boys in blue and white in the middle of America. It’s not always easy. Fans are willing to come and go like a thunderstorm does in the Kansas and Missouri plains. One minute that fan support is intense; filled with fervor; the next minute it’s calm, almost dead. 2013-2017 showed what Royals fandom could be when the Royals were competing and winning. And unfortunately, the past two seasons have also showed the lows Royals fandom can get when the club struggles: apathetic, pessimistic, and distracted on other summer distractions.
But at the end of the day…why go to a Royals game in 2019? Why support the Royals? Because they are…the Royals, the baseball club of Kansas City. They will scrap some games they shouldn’t win, but more often than not they will come on short end of the scoreboard. And in the end, that’s okay. The Royals 2014 and 2015 playoff fervor would not have been as scorching if it were not for all those years of struggle in the 90’s and 2000’s. Maybe it’s time for Royals fans to go through that process again…that valley of mediocrity that precedes the wave of joyous success.
Kansas Citians love everything Kansas City. I think that soul of this city makes me enjoy living in Kansas City more than any other place I have lived before (which includes San Jose, Los Angeles and Spokane, Wash). There’s an underdog spirit that lives on both sides of the state line that you don’t get in bigger places like San Francisco or Los Angeles. And that’s great to see. Cities are wonderful, living and breathing entities, and a strong city is usually a byproduct of a strong, invested community of people. Kansas City has that even if it’s population may not be the size of New York or Chicago: the spirit is just as strong, in its own unique, Midwest way.
And the Royals represent that: plucky and small market, but proud, ever still up for the challenge of giving a baseball experience at Kauffman that is up there with Wrigley in Chicago, Fenway in Boston or Yankee Stadium in New York. Outsiders may not give it the credit it deserves because it doesn’t have the team history, the metro size, or the familiarity of those bigger clubs…but make no mistake, a baseball experience at Kauffman is like no other, and deserves its respect.
A Royals game at Kauffman is Kansas City channeled in a three-to-four hour baseball game experience (all depending on how the game is going or how long you want to stay). And much like my time here living in Kansas City (I am now finishing my sixth year here as a resident in KC), I have grown to appreciate the Royals each and every game, and I relish more about the Royals and Kauffman after each and every game as well. My Royals fan experience at the K is like any good relationship: only getting stronger through time and more involvement.
Here’s to more Royals baseball in 2019 and beyond!