Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kauffman Stadium Review

If you didn't know me that well you might start to think that I am a Royals fan. Why? I have been to 4 Royals games in the last month and a half. My current favorite writer is the Kansas City Star's Joe Posnanski. I read every one of his blog posts, and because of him I know the difference between Mike Jacobs and Mark Teahan. I even considered buying a Royals player t-shirt because I think the name DeJesus is really funny. I am not a Royals fan (they play in the Twins division), but lately I have been immersed in all things Royals. The immersion included 3 Royals games at Kauffman stadium, and because of that I feel more qualified than ever to write this stadium review.

Now that my credentials have been laid out for you, it is on to the review. First, if you want to read Eric Neel's review, just click on this article.

Scalping/Ticket Prices - B-
The good news is that ticket prices are reasonable, and also there don't seem to be any truly bad seats in the smaller ballpark. The stadium has a vertical, enclosed feel which eliminates the "I need to have binoculars to see what team is at bat" seats.

The bad news are the scalpers. Never before have I been around such an amateur, disorganized, clueless and, in some cases, non-existent group of scalpers. In my three games there I encountered scalpers who didn't have the tickets, tried to sell Royals-Os tickets for face value and were completely disinterested in negotiating. I went up to one scalper and asked him how much for 4 tickets, and he responded with "4 for $100." When I responded with "how about $80?" he just walked away with a disgusted look on his face. Never before have I met a scalper who didn't negotiate or try to sell us on why his tickets were worth his price. Also, the scalpers are tough to find with some of them positioned near the ticket office and some in the parking lot. In general there isn't a good place to get scalped tickets, which is why I had to buy tickets from the box office for two out of the three games. If tickets weren't reasonably priced with most of the seats being pretty good then I would have given this category a D-.

Aesthetic Appeal - A
While it might not look like more than a concrete stadium from the parking lot, I love Kauffman Stadium's look. I think the view from I-70 is great, but what I really enjoy is the view from inside the stadium. It has a really symmetrical feel to it with the most amazing scoreboard (and currently the largest in all of sports) in center field dividing the famous waterfalls pictured below:

The waterfalls run throughout the game, but really come alive during the mid-inning breaks in the action. I would recommend anyone visiting the K to watch an inning or two from behind the waterfalls. The only downfall of that view is that you aren't able to see the current biggest scoreboard (about to be eclipsed by the Cowboys new stadium's scoreboard) in professional sports. This scoreboard is crystal clear and obviously incredibly large. During the game action the Royals provide all the relevant information for the true baseball fan. For the not-so-true baseball fan they can look forward to the Kiss Cam, trivia, games and (my favorite) the Smile Cam shown on the scoreboard. I don't know if I would change anything aesthetically about the stadium besides maybe the players on the field.

Fans - A-
Royals fans seem like a good-natured bunch (reference the Smile Cam) who do not live and die with the outcome of the game. This is probably a good thing since for the most recent years the Royals have been terrible. However, just because they might not be the most maniacal fans does not mean they do not support their team. The Royals support their team without being mean, condescending or negative. The boos you might hear at Yankee stadium or other ballparks are not something that you should expect to hear at the K. The fans seemed very family friendly and relaxed about the outcome of game. Royals fans must have some good Midwestern values.

Buzz - B-
If the Royals were to play an important game I would like to think that there would be a buzz in the air at Kauffman. Instead the Royals have been bad lately and the three games (Orioles twice and Reds once) I saw weren't exactly games that would lead off Sportscenter. I give it a B- because I imagine the park would be exciting if the game warranted it. However, I can't give it more than a B- because I just didn't see an electric atmosphere.

Food - A-
The best thing I can saw about the food at the ballpark is that I wish I had more of it. The problem was that before two of the three games I went to get BBQ from Arthur Bryant's and Okalahoma Joe's. Those two places left no trace of hunger and unfortunately prevented me from getting anything at the ballpark. The one game I did eat at was a joy because I was able to devour a KC cheese steak from the Rivals bar in outfield. This cheese steak had a smokey feel to it and was truly one of the best cheese steaks I have ever had:

My friends commented that they enjoyed the food they got as well, and I was very impressed with the amount of options that were available. There were no complaints on the food besides the below-average smoothie I got, but really that is my fault for getting a smoothie at a ballpark.

Fun things to do besides the game - A-
For adults you can watch the game, eat or watch the giant scoreboard:

However, if you are a kid then you are in paradise in the outfield. There is a carousel, a mini-baseball field and other things to entertain the young ones. Also, coming soon there will be a Royals Hall of Fame, which I can only imagine to be a shrine to George Brett.

Overall impression A-
I loved the park, the people, the food, the scoreboard and the fact that the Royals are normally such gracious hosts to the Twins. (Sorry for the dig Royals fans.) The only thing that prevents the park from getting an A or an A+ is the lack of quality scalpers. Not to harp on that too much, but that is something that can be improved upon to make a better fan experience at the K. Still, it is best not focus on that since Kauffman Stadium is a great, great park, and I am pleased at least to have pretended to be a Royals fan for the past month.

1 comment:

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