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BBQ and Baseball: A Tour of the New Kauffman Stadium

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BBQ and Baseball: A Tour of the New Kauffman Stadium
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The following is a review of Kauffman Stadium was originally published at www.Stadiumjourney.com .  After reading it - and then the other stadium reviews - I realized that baseball in Kansas City isn't all that bad.  Sure we've had a crummy team for quite some time, but at least we have great facilities, good promotions, relatively fair prices, and a deep history....also, we can thank god that BBQ and baseball go together like lamb and tunafish .

Hopefully you see the same silver lining I do:

 

Any quality trip to Kauffman Stadium requires a stop at one of the city’s many Barbecue restaurants; in the vicinity of the K the options only get sweeter.

If you’re coming from the southern portion of the Metro area, one should consider hitting up LC’s Bar-B-Q at 5800 Blue Parkway.  Their self-described tangy homestyle sauce provides great flavor for any of your meaty favorites.  Ribs, beef, pork, turkey…you can’t go wrong.

While LC’s is great, Arthur Bryant’s at 1727 Brooklyn Ave. is other-worldly.  Evidence of politicians, athletes and actors being hosted at the restaurant is draped on the walls.  Any restaurant this historic deserves respect, and when you taste the meats from their aged smoker you’ll recognize why.  Again, order anything on the menu but be prepared for tremendous portion.

After pre-game preparations, it’s time to see the new K; in the midst of a midlife crisis, Kauffman Stadium had a face lift.  While many of these butcher jobs are obvious patchworks, this overhaul resulted in seamless rejuvenation.  Perks like a sports bar, hall-of-fame and expanded vending options were added.  An entire “Outfield Experience” was constructed in a former dead-space area; it is equipped with standing room views within the famous outfield fountains, new seating, kids play area with a mini-Kauffman Stadium to play on, a tremendous HD video board, picnic area sporting famous Kansas City barbecue, and bars in both left and right field.  If all of that isn’t enough, the new K boasts mini-HDTV’s by concession stands, new monuments and more frequent and cleaner – albeit more cumbersome – restrooms throughout.

Among all these new perks, the two biggest additions to the stadium were the Hall-of-Fame in left field and Rivals Sports Bar in right field.  The Hall-of-Fame boasts several uniquely Kansas City pieces of memorabilia like George Brett’s “pine tar incident” bat, Brett Saberhagen’s hat from his no-hitter and the 1985 World Series Trophy.

Rivals Sports Bar boasts a full menu bar from its view in right – above the unique bullpen the stadium has possessed since its inception.  The lower level is open to the public every game and the upper deck is available for large parties – when it is not rented the public is free to use it.  If you are lucky enough to snag a table in Rivals, you are guaranteed to have a good view of the ballgame.  Additionally, the pre and postgame shows are anchored from there

Kauffman has always been home of one of the most beautiful fields in baseball.  Even when the AstroTurf was rolled out, head groundskeeper George Toma kept it neatly swept.  Once the grass came back to Kansas City, the K was immediately upgraded.  Unfortunately, what followed was the plastering of tacky sponsor signs around the outfield wall reminiscent of a Minor League ballpark.  That, as much as anything else, made this recent revamping necessary.  Since advertising is essential in this modern sports age, several video boards were installed that flash advertisements and game information while the number of billboards and banners has been reduced allowing attention to refocus on the striking field.

 

FANFARE Score: 24

Food & Beverage: 5

Food and beverage is what Kansas City does best.  From a giant steak on the bone to a bratwurst to some good old local barbecue, you can’t go wrong.  With the addition of more concessions and bars in the stadium, even the most parched fan can stay quenched and full.

Atmosphere: 3

If you are a fan of the opposing team, then this score is probably a 5.  It is no secret that the Royals are in a long funk and that has taken a toll on the fan base.  However, the few loyal fans still attending games are vocal as ever in attempt to drown out the voice of the visitors – which gives a sense of camaraderie among the blue.  It’s a long way from the Chicago Cubs lovable loser camaraderie, but it does make for a fun atmosphere.

Neighborhood: 1

Don’t look for anything to do after the game in the area of the Truman Sports Complex.  Instead, head to Power & Light District, Westport or the Waldo area.  Power & Light is a dress code environment while pretty much anything goes in Westport and Waldo.  Bars are open until 3:00 am.

Fans: 2

As mentioned in my review of atmosphere, the loyal fan base is dwindling in Kansas City.  As a result, many “Let’s Go Royals” chants are only started to cover up the previously started “Let’s Go Sox/Twins/Cardinals etc.”  Again, you’ll love it if you’re rooting for the visiting team.

Access: 4

Though Kauffman is a bit out of the way, it is at a major intersection of highways with several “local roads” that lead to different entrances.  This, combined with the fact that the complex is tremendous as it houses both the Royals and Chiefs, leads to a pretty efficiently run parking situation.  Granted, much of that satisfaction could be due to the limited attendance.

Return on Investment: 5

The Kansas City Royals have some of the most reasonable ticket prices; they also run several family and group promotions while boasting frequent Buck Nights which includes dollar hot dogs, peanuts, and sodas.  T-shirt Tuesday leads the promotion wave, but recent surges in bobble head and jersey giveaways have generated much attention and attendance.

Etc: 4

Kauffman Stadium is an affordable good time.  New fan friendly additions and attractions make the experience worthy of one’s time and expense…and if you’re lucky maybe the Royals will show up and a game will break out.

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