When Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973, it had one of the largest scoreboards in all of sports. That scoreboard got a huge upgrade in 2006, when one of baseball’s older stadiums underwent significant renovations. The scoreboard was transformed into one of the largest LED Jumbotrons in the world, complete with a royal crown.
The backside of the scoreboard facing Interstate 70 went through several designs with the team’s logo or a giant white R on a field of royal blue. It currently reads:
“Kansas City Royals
Of course the 2018 squad does not at all resemble the championship team from three years ago. The roster was gutted with star pitcher Johnny Cueto sent to San Francisco, designated hitter Kendrys Morales now in Toronto, and All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain shining in Milwaukee.
The Royals are still a proud franchise, despite the rebuilding process, and they play in one of baseball’s best stadiums.
The first few times I arrived at this Kansas City stadium was on a tour bus. Getting to a Royals game is easy via car, but there are not many transportation options beyond that. There is a really great tailgating scene when they are doing well and earlier in the season.
Kauffman Stadium sits right next to the freeway and is adjacent to Arrowhead Stadium, home to the NFL’s Chiefs. It is a rather simple drive from either the east or the west, but can get congested the closer you get.
Driving, or using Uber, Lyft or a traditional taxi, are really the only viable options to get to the sports complex. There is a city bus that runs a limited route to and from the stadium, but the location makes train or trolley rides impossible.
I feel like I saw a totally different side of the Royals’ stadium on this trip. I had been there to see the Cardinals play the Royals and, as previously mentioned, I arrived on a tour bus filled with fellow Cardinals fans. I enjoyed my previous trips and thought it to be one of the better stadiums.
This time I really got to walk around and see all that this stadium has to offer. The atmosphere was definitely more electric in a good year or against their I-70 rivals, but it is still a fun place to experience a game.
Seeing Kauffman Stadium in 2015 would have been great. Unfortunately we saw the basement dwellers in the American League Central play host to the almost equally bad Chicago White Sox. Despite the terrible teams squaring off, there was a very good crowd at Kauffman Stadium for a Tuesday.
It was Sept. 11, and the Royals invited several military families to the game in honor of their service on the anniversary of one of the country’s worst tragedies. The fans were engaged, kids were enjoying the various amenities offered, and it helped that the Royals handed the White Sox a 6-3 defeat.
The best food in Kansas City is not at Kauffman Stadium. That doesn’t mean the stadium doesn’t have good food, just not great options. The best option is arguably Belfonte’s Ice Cream, which provided a tasty treat. Certainly there are long lines at this stand next to the kids area in the height of summer.
For true sustenance, we got some nachos and a hot dog. They weren’t the best we’ve ever had, but they were tasty and did the trick.
It probably helped that the Royals were not very good in 2018, but we got a pair of tickets in Section 214 for only $28. The food and drink prices were on par with what we’ve seen at other stadiums and parking was $20 in the massive lots shared by Arrowhead Stadium.
The tailgating scene at Kauffman Stadium is supposed to be among the best in baseball. We were disappointed, however, when we attended a Tuesday night game late in what was a bad season. We saw nobody grilling and only one group that stayed by their vehicles to drink and play cornhole. Had it been a weekend, or even earlier in the season while there was still hope of postseason participation, we likely would have seen myriad of tents and grills hours before the first pitch.
What Kauffman Stadium does have, however, is one of the coolest outfield backdrops you’ll see anywhere. The famous fountains shoot water spouts between every inning and during pitching changes. That is in addition to pregame festivities and following home runs and Royals victories. We were fortunate enough to see the Royals beat the White Sox while we were there.
The Royals Hall of Fame is also another neat feature loaded with memorabilia from the franchise’s two World Series victories as well as other MLB items that are not Royals-related. It’s more of a baseball museum than a Royals-centric attraction.
The giant George Brett baseball shrine, however, is a nice touch.
Brett is also one of the Royals greats honored with statues in the outfield concourse. Also immortalized with statues are former owners and stadium namesake Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, infielder Frank White, and former manager Dick Howser.
The Royals also have an awesome kids zone filled with a small baseball field, batting cage, pitching area to test the children’s arm strength and a “Royal” carousel.
The giant scoreboard, adorned with a crown, is the feature of Kauffman Stadium that stands out the most and something every baseball fan should see in person.
We didn’t see as much of Kansas City as we had hoped, but what we saw we really liked. The highlight was the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. No baseball trip would have been complete without a visit there.
The Negro Leagues museum, which shares a building with the Kansas City Jazz Museum, is a must-see. Some of the greats who have their own exhibits are Satchell Paige, Buck O’Neil and Rube Foster. All three are among those inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Negro Leagues museum includes lockers for each former Negro Leagues player who is enshrined in Cooperstown.
After the museum, venture into the very walkable downtown area. We had a yummy dinner at BRGR Kitchen + Bar and then explored on foot.
Kansas City barbeque is also a must and we had dinner at the famous Joe’s Kansas City, which is on the Kansas side. As you might expect, the original location which is inside a gas station, always has a line but the wait is worth it because the food is delicious.
We also toured Boulevard Brewing Company and, for just $5, got a pretty intimate hour-long tour of the facility. The tour ended in the taproom with three tastings and we also got to sample a glass of beer when the tour began. The taproom has a nice outdoor patio and open feel throughout. We highly recommend a visit here as well.
As we’ve said about nearly every other city on our tour, Kansas City is definitely a city to which we want to return. There is more to see each time we visit.