Kauffman Stadium: Baseball Gameday Guide
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Opened in 1973, The K is named for Ewing Kauffman, a Kansas City entrepreneur and philanthropist who brought Major League Baseball back to Kansas City after the A's left for Oakland in 1967. Located on the east side of the metro, The K is half of the Truman Sports Complex, which also includes Arrowhead Stadium, where the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs play.
The ballpark is surrounded by highways; it's not a pedestrian neighborhood. Almost all fans drive to games; travelers along I-70 catch glimpses of the action on the field, and fans in the top deck easily watch traffic speed along on the interstate.
There's no definitive neighborhood surrounding the stadium, so most fans show up just before game time, either driving in or walking across the George Brett pedestrian bridge that connects the stadium with nearby hotels. There is, however, a strong tailgate culture here, and you'll see people congregating in the parking lots up to an hour and a half before game time.
Royals fans are true baseball fans who often come to see the competing teams as much as their own boys in blue play the game, although much of that passion for the local team rocketed off the charts in October 2014 when the Royals made it to the World Series for the first time in 29 years. It's a family-friendly, all-American sports experience for people who just love the game played in a beautiful stadium.
Nothing at the stadium opens more than 90 minutes before the game, so unless you're tailgating, you'll want to get the party rolling elsewhere in Kansas City.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Flying Saucer | With more than 250 kinds of bottled beer and about 40 on tap, this is the place to have whatever kind of beer you want in KC. Order the Saucer Bratzel (pretzels and brats) to set the stage for more beer and brats at the stadium. On great summer days, the floor-to-ceiling windows roll up, spreading the good times out into the energetic Power & Light District.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant | One of the premier party destinations in Kansas City's Power & Light District, this chain brewery/restaurant has a fabulous patio area that overlooks a public space where you might see a fashion show, concert or free-throw contest. If there's something happening next door at the Sprint Center, an indoor arena, this place may be crowded, but that makes it all the more fun.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Dixon's Chili | A Kansas City institution since 1919, Dixon's was a favorite of Harry Truman—this location on Highway 40 about 10 minutes from the Sports Complex probably hasn't changed since Harry and Bess visited. It's a "dry" chili, meaning it's made without tomatoes. It's a cheery place with a neighborhood feel where everyone knows everyone else.
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Kelly's Westport Inn | Not only is this building considered the oldest in Kansas City (dating to 1850) there's always a party of some kind underway at Kelly's any day or night of the week. The rooftop patio is fabulous and a little rowdy on Saturday nights in the summer, especially when the boys in blue show up on the many big-screen TVs.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Stroud's Oak Ridge Manor | For almost 200 years, people have been coming here for authentic pan-fried chicken, the best homemade mashed potatoes and gravy since your grandma's, green beans and all the fixin's. It's comfort food at its best and destination dining, an experience in itself before the game.
WHERE TO EAT WITH HISTORY
Arthur Bryant's BBQ | Kansas City's BBQ reputation took off when radio announcers calling the A's games at the old Municipal Stadium commented on the aroma of Arthur Bryant's a few blocks away. It's Kansas City's oldest BBQ joint, where burnt ends were first placed on the menu and where they still fry the fries in lard. Any candidate running for president or celebrity visiting KC always stops at Bryant's.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT THE K?
The huge parking lots shared with Arrowhead Stadium allow for some of the best tailgating of any baseball stadium. There's a designated lot for the pregame festivities: the Hall of Fame Pavilion Parking Lot. Before the important series with St. Louis, New York and San Francisco, the big corporate tents open up for a true party atmosphere.
INSIDE KAUFFMAN STADIUM
BBQ, beers and baseball: you can eat, drink and cheer local at a Royals game in Kauffman Stadium.
WHERE TO SIT
There's not really a bad seat in The K, but to avoid the sun setting in your face, choose the third-base side. The lower-level Crown seats offer up-close experiences, but they don't catch a breeze on a hot day or night. Upper-level seats are cooler. Sit in the Fountain seats in left-center field, sections 201 or 203, on a hot summer day. When the wind is right, you'll get a nice spray.
The BBQ Pit | It wouldn't be Kansas City without barbecue, so dig into some ribs or burnt ends in the right field of the Outfield Experience, an entertainment area with bars, restaurants and activities for kids and adults.
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Belfonte Ice Cream | Belfonte is Kansas City's local dairy, and the ice cream is to die for. It has its own shop in the Outfield Experience, and most concession stands through the stadium offer cups starting at about $6. It's Italian, so pronounce it "bell-font-AY."
BEST BEER IN THE K
Boulevard | When the beer jockeys shout "Cold beer here," call out for something from Boulevard, Kansas City's local brewery. The Pale Ale is the most popular, but try a Pop-Up when at the ballpark.
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Sluggerrr's Training Table | Located in the Outfield Experience, this place has small, colorful tables for the kids to enjoy and serves apple slices for a healthier ballpark choice. Other healthy options can be found at Rivals Express in right field, which carries veggie burgers, grilled chicken wraps and garden salads; the Crown Classic stands at C213, C417 and C422 all offer veggie dogs and veggie burgers.
BEST STADIUM BAR
Rivals Sports Bar | Located in right field next to the fountains, Rivals has with air-conditioning and a great view. If you're coming with friends, reserve a table early. It's open to all ticket holders, so buy the cheapest seats available and watch the game here.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Take time to visit the Royals Hall of Fame. Among the more interesting exhibits is the infamous pine-tar bat that got George Brett in such trouble. You'll also see the 1985 World Series trophy and an exhibit dedicated to Dick Howser, the coach who led the team to victory just before losing his battle to cancer. The other Hall of Famer is Frank White, whose jersey was retired in 1995.
Come a little early on Saturdays and tour Arrowhead Stadium, just across the parking lot from The K.
Kauffman Stadium Tours
ROYALS GAMES ON A BUDGET
To really save money at The K, bring your own food and beer and join the pregame tailgate. Inside the stadium, here are some ways to save.
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Hall of Fame parking lot | The best way to enjoy a cold one on a budget is to come early with a cooler of your favorite adult beverage and join the tailgating festivities in the Hall of Fame parking lot. Once you're inside the stadium, all beers are priced the same whether at a restaurant, concession stand or from the vendors patrolling the stands.
BEST CHEAP BITES IN THE K
Buck Nights | During eight home games, hot dogs, peanuts and small soft drinks sell for just $1 each. This season it's May 2 and 16, June 20 and 27, July 11 and 25, Aug. 29 and Sept. 19.
BEST CHEAP ROYALS TICKETS
Each Monday night, a limited number of infield and outfield seats sell for $8. Students with ID can get into Wednesday-night games for $8. Other seats go on sale periodically, so it's best to check www.royals.com for the deal of the week.
KAUFFMAN STADIUM WITH KIDS
Sundays are family days at the K. In addition to kids getting to run the bases after the game and lots of extra activities in the Outfield Experience, you can grab four tickets for $80 that includes an additional $10 per ticket for concessions or souvenirs, as well as a bunch of tokens for the Outfield Experience.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Coco Key Water Resort | Just across Blue Ridge Cut-off from the stadium, Coco Key is inside the Holiday Inn there. The hotel offers family baseball packages, or you can buy a one-day pass to the water park and play for a few hours before crossing the street to The K.
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Sluggerrr's Training Table in the Outfield Experience has milk, mac n' cheese, apple slices, Capri Sun fruit juices and other treats that appeal to little ones.
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Sundays at The K are "Signature Sundays," meaning if you get to the stadium an hour or more before the first pitch and hang out at the Royals' dugout by first base, several players will be on hand for autographs. Otherwise, your best chances after the games are in three designated spaces in the stadium: near the visiting team bus at Gate D; the ramp behind Player Parking; and outside the Gate C lobby.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
The Outfield Experience, added in 2008, has completely changed the family experience at The K. Some activities are free; others require tokens, so be prepared with dollar bills. Little ones will be happy riding the carousel and playing on the playground. Or they can burn some energy running little bases or test their batting and pitching techniques against the clock. A mini-golf course and entertainment stage round out the activities.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
The Ladies and Kids Store in the Outfield Experience offers a huge selection of children's clothing, from newborn to young adult.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A ROYALS GAME
On Friday nights, fireworks keep people in the stands and in the parking lot for at least 30 minutes after the game. Otherwise, there's not much happening at the sports complex, and the place empties quickly. Most people head home or west off I-70 to Westport or the Power & Light District.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Power & Light District | With about 50 restaurants, bars and live entertainment, this is where Kansas City celebrates its victories and mourns its defeats. There's plenty of parking and security, and everything stays open until 1 a.m. on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends.
WHERE TO GET A POST-GAME MEAL
Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ | After day games, head to the Country Club Plaza, Kansas City's best spot for people watching and great outdoor dining. There are many good choices, but Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ has a location on the Plaza and another a few blocks away in the Crossroads Arts District. For late-night munchies, Winstead's on the Plaza is open 24 hours and has great burgers, shakes and stacks of onion rings to absorb some of the ballpark beers you drank.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
Other than one or two fast-food joints, there is nothing within walking distance of the Truman Sports Complex. The closest place for drink or food is along Highway 40 in Independence, but these are rather divey biker bars; they're certainly not family-friendly. Head east on I-70 about 6 miles to Exit 15 for several chain restaurants like Applebee's and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Travel writer Diana Lambdin Meyer is based in the Kansas City area and believes her move to the city in 1985 brought good luck to the Royals, who won their only World Series that year.