Situated off of I-70 just a few miles east of downtown Kansas City. Kauffman Stadium is part
of the Truman Sports Complex, which was opened in 1973 to serve as the home of the
American League?s Kansas City Royals. Also located alongside "The K" is Arrowhead
Stadium, home of the NFL Chiefs and MLS Wizards.
Looking at the Truman Complex from a distance one can only wonder at amazement at how
these two companion venues came to being, in an era when multi-purpose cookie-cutter
stadiums were opening all across the country. Back at the time of its construction, the
multi-purpose configuration was all the rage. Yet the forward thinkers here in Kansas City
took a then unconventional route, not only building two separate venues, but erecting
structures which are architecturally striking even today, and almost thirty years later both
stadiums are remarkably functional and serve the public and their major tenants well.
Outside the Venue
The stadium is easily accessible from the interstate and is surrounded by vast expanses of
parking. Driving on the interstate the stadium comes upon you almost immediately, and the
massive "KC"? emblem adorns the exterior face of the centerfield scoreboard. Also the
outstanding view of three levels of seats staring out at you builds your anticipation for the
baseball experience that awaits.
A couple of hotels sit across the interstate from the venue, but otherwise there is nothing
around to do with the exception of tailgating. While we did not experience the size and
scope of the tailgate scene that we encountered at the Chiefs game last fall, nevertheless
the grills and coolers were in abundance and Royals fans were partying it up on this holiday
The ball park itself is built into three tiers, with seating decks extending from foul pole to
foul pole. The architecture is such that it is still modern and futuristic, with a curved
roofline rising along the upper deck. Gray and white are the primary colors, and while that
would appear bland, the Royals decorate the alcoves of the building with many large and
colorful banners saluting the people, both on the field and off the field, who have been
instrumental in the success of this franchise.
One of the unfortunate detriments to this otherwise beautiful building is the paucity of
landscaping and the extensive use of chain link fencing and blacktop. Attractive landscape
treatments, wrought iron and brick fencing and tiled pavement would add so much to the
ambience of the ballpark.
Kauffman's main level concourse offers a view of the field from virtually all vantage points.
The concourse here is narrower than those found in newer venues and can be difficult to
negotiate at times, yet not to the point where it is a constant struggle to navigate the
building. The upper levels are served by both escalators and circular ramps positioned at
strategic locations throughout the stadium. Also along the field level concourse are two
major team stores, one on each base side. Near home plate is the Royals Hall of Fame, a
tasteful display featuring their 1985 World Series Trophy, and portraits of their greatest
players as well as their two founding owners, Muriel and Ewing Kauffman. All this is
handsomely displayed in a glass enclosed showcase. Also at field level down the right field
line is a children?s playground, situated just outside the stadium walls. In addition to play
equipment and a small picnic area, Sluggerrr, the Royals mascot can be found there during
the game, signing autographs and entertaining the little ones.
The signature element at the "K" is the spectacular design beyond the outfield fences.
Here one can find a terrific display of beautiful fountains which extend between the power
alleys. These fountains are lit up at night, and perform different sequences between each
inning. There is even a special fountain salute for each time a Royals player hits a home
run. At the center of these fountains sits a massive dot-matrix centerfield scoreboard in
the shape of the Royals logo ? a crown. To the left of center is a companion jumbotron, and
in between each cascading waterfall among the fountains is a changeable ad panel. This
whole setup is totally phenomenal, and we would have to say the best feature this ballpark
has to offer.
We put the word premium in quotations because the entire club level concept here is
laughable. We sat in the 200 level seats on our first visit, and had our tickets checked as
we boarded the 200 level escalator. The purpose of this dog-and-pony show totally eluded
us, as the club level did not offer even one amenity or special service that could not be
found elsewhere in the grandstand. No in seat waiter service, no bars, lounges, premium
food items or restaurants. In fact not even any carpeting or premium décor. Along the third
base side is a Stadium Club Restaurant, climate controlled, tiered seating and offering a
premium buffet and a large bar area. Access to this restaurant, however, requires season
tickets and a substantial membership fee, and even with our club ticket in hand, this area
was not open to scrubs like us. We will, however, commend the Royals foresight again, as
this restaurant concept with a view of the field was an idea way ahead of its time.
The Royals also offer two super premium seating areas- the first being front row seats
directly behind home plate with access to a separate "Crown Club"?. The second , again
unique to ballparks we have seen thus far, are two "dugout suites", adjacent to and
shaped like a team dugout, and offering a unique view of the action.
When in Kansas City, you have to try the barbeque, and here at Kauffman Stadium the
Gates Barbeque Stand is a must do. This concession is located on the field level concourse
and the lines were plenty long so it had to be plenty good. And it was!!
Other wise there was a wide variety of eat and drink to be found at reasonable prices.
The Krispy Kreme four pack, $3.50 at Kauffman was well below the five dollar price at
Staples Center. Andrew helped himself to an overwhelming amount of chili cheese fries,
while Peter had every possible kind of gourmet pretzel there was to be had.
Three numbers are proudly displayed beneath the center field scoreboard honoring Frank
White, George Brett, and the late Dick Howser. The Royals celebration of their glory years
can be found beyond the left field pavilion, where flags commemorating their seven AL
West titles, two AL championships, and 1985 World Series victory are displayed.
Bisons watch- Jason Grimsley, whose dazzling K's were often combined with those
$#$%^&% wild pitches, now wears Royals blue.
Ichiro watch- in our Safeco Field profile, we talked about the buzz and excitement of the
new Japanese sensation, Ichiro Suzuki. Apparently the excitement can be felt on the road
as well, as we spotted several Ichiro signs in Japanese throughout the stands. Ichiro
received scattered applause each time he came up to bat.
Kansas City Municipal Stadium-.just blocks away from the Negro Leagues Museum is the
now vacant site where this stadium, the original home of the Chiefs and Royals as well as
plenty of Negro League action, once stood. At the right field corner is an attractive display
and a couple of benches commemorating the site.
A supermarket chain sponsors a half price ticket promotion for some upper deck seats for
Monday and Thursday games. We took advantage of this promotion and enjoyed terrific
seats above home plate for only $5.50, probably our best MLB bargain so far.
An idea for the Royals people-..
Down in Houston, the Astros do an add-on song, " Deep in the heart of Texas"? during their
seventh inning stretch. This is their signature piece and one that makes their ballpark
experience a special one. Might we suggest that you folks move the limbo song to another
break in the action and add your own signature song. Our suggestion-"Everything's up to
date in Kansas City" from the musical "Oklahoma". It's foot stompin' hand clappin' and
best of all, it is uniquely YOURS.
We extend a special thank you to Johnny Lee of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Plenty of stories, complimentary admission, and even some souvenirs. Thank you Johnny,
and for your kindness you are hereby inducted into the Ultimate Sports Road Trip Hall of
A well designed and functional ballpark. It is to be commended for being far ahead of the
curve in ballpark design. Twenty years ago or even ten years ago this venue would be at or
near the top of our list. However, with the new wave of ballpark construction of the 90?s
and beyond this place falls to the middle of the pack. A revamped and upgraded club
concourse is an absolute must to both generate more revenue and bring this ballpark in
line with its peer facilities.
Food and team store 7.5
Scoreboard and electronics 5
Fan support 4.5
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 7
In game entertainment 7
Concourses/fan comfort 6
Bonus: Negro League Museum 2; fountains 3; KC Municipal Stadium marker 1; barbecue 1
May 26 and