The 300s Ballpark Tour moves on to Kansas City today where we check out the home of the Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium.
Kauffman Stadium opened in 1973 and has been the home of the Royals for 46 of their 50 seasons. The Royals 50th Season logo was plastered all over the park, as well as that day’s giveaway item.
Kauffman Stadium was one of only a few baseball-specific stadiums built between 1960 and 1990. [Candlestick Park and Anaheim Stadium were originally baseball-specific stadiums, but both were later modified to accommodate NFL teams.] The only other baseball-specific stadiums from that era that come to mind are Dodger Stadium and Arlington Stadium.
Maybe that’s why Kauffman Stadium has outlasted so many other stadiums from that era, including Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Busch Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, Three Rivers Stadium and Veterans Stadium. Those multi-purpose venues all closed down between 1996-2005.
By that time, though, “The K” had begun to show its age. Between 2007 and 2009, the stadium underwent a $250 million renovation that included a new video board, an outfield concourse and a kids’ area.
Those renovations helped the Royals get the All-Star Game in 2012, and were a big part of what made my trip to The K so much fun. The outfield concourse made it easy to walk around and access all parts of the park, and it allows fans to get up close to the famous Kauffman Stadium fountains. I can’t imagine how congested the concourses must have been before the renovations, when you couldn’t walk out in that area. And on a hot summer afternoon at the ballpark it’s nice to be able to duck into an air-conditioned bar for a half inning.
The Royals Hall of Fame in left field was also fun to walk through (and air conditioned).
I ate my weight in ribs while in Kansas City, but I didn’t go for BBQ fare at the ballpark. I went with the footlong Kansas City Dog, which didn’t disappoint. Much better than the infamous Kauffman Stadium dollar dogs.
The Royals’ lease at Kauffman Stadium runs through 2030 and there have been rumors that the Royals would be interested in moving into a new downtown ballpark at that time. Kauffman Stadium would be nearly 60 years old in 2030, but it has been well kept up to this point and there’s no reason why the Royals couldn’t play there for another 20-30 years. Still, the prospect of playing at a shiny new stadium can be hard to pass up.
Whatever its future, Kauffman Stadium should be known as one of the best parks of its era. It’s not Dodger Stadium, and it’s not the destination ballpark that AT&T Park is today, but it is a fun place to catch a game at. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and wouldn’t mind making it an annual occurrence.
Big Z Ballpark Rating – 8.1