In a time when baseball stadiums are being built in the middle of thriving downtown districts, there is one that has stood out among those that have yet to make the migration.
I still remember my first trip to Kauffman Stadium. Sitting behind home plate in the upper deck, I remember looking down on the field in awe. There was a wonder about looking at the field covered in astroturf, the fountains in the outfield, and the crown scoreboard in centerfield. Visiting Kauffman with my kids wasn’t even a thought in my mind but I knew that there was something special about this place.
Opened in 1973, Kauffman Stadium hasn’t always been known as Kauffman, or the K as it is known to many local to Kansas City and the vast majority of Kansas City Royals fans. Until 1993 it was named Royals Stadium, it wasn’t until then that the name was changed to Kauffman Stadium, named after Ewing Marion Kauffman who bought the team in 1968. This makes Kauffman Stadium the only stadium in Major League Baseball to be named after one person.
Standing Out Among Stadiums Built At The Time
At the time that Kauffman Stadium was built, cookie cutter multi-purpose stadiums were the norm when it came to new stadium design. Many new stadiums at the time were built to play host to both Major League Baseball teams and National Football League teams. The K is held to Dodger Stadium as one of the best examples of modernist stadium design.
The one thing that sets Kauffman Stadium apart from the downtown stadiums that are being built in the present day, is that it is built next to Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs and is surrounded by large parking lots. This means that on Royal’s game days, fans can early to tailgate. This was and still is an atmosphere unlike any stadium today. Not too many baseball venues open are able to open up their parking lots and allow fans to set up barbeque grills and cornhole games.
Prior to 2006, Kauffman Stadium was very much an old school stadium. It was all about the game and not much of an attraction to visit like many of the modern day baseball stadiums that were starting to pop up in downtown areas of major cities. When you took your kids to the game, there was not much for them to do other than hope that they catch a foul ball.
Renovation to Kauffman Stadium
In 2006 Kauffman Stadium was renovated to the stadium that we see today. Completed in 2009 the renovations included: a new scoreboard called Crown Vision, an outfield concourse, kids’ area (more on this later) a restaurant in right field, a hall of fame in left field, wider concourses, four new entry ticket gates, and more.
After the renovations though Kauffman Stadium took on a completely different feel. Crown Vision, the new scoreboard for the Kansas City Royals, at the time it was built, was the largest high definition LED display in the world. Crown Vision was among one of the first phases of renovations to be completed and made Kauffman Stadium a destination to visit, even while construction was being complete on the new Outfield Experience.
Kauffman Stadium’s Family Friendly Outfield Experience
The one phase that sets the K apart from many Major League Baseball stadiums though would be the Outfield Experience. Including baseball themed games, a carousel, a mini golf course, concert stage, and mini Kauffman Stadium for the kids to play in gives Kauffman Stadium a family vibe unlike any other. Before renovations walking behind the scoreboard an in the outfield area would have been impossible.
While many parents will complain that this takes away from the game, the Royals have made it very convenient to keep up with the game. A live radio feed along with multiple TV’s allow you to keep one eye on the game, while watching your son knock one out of mini-Kauffman Stadium. Tokens are needed for many of the games but the playground is free for your kids to play on.
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On busy nights at the playground of the Kauffman Stadium outfield experience, make sure your kids wear something bright and/or easily recognizable so you can find them easily. It is easy for your kids to get lost.
Also another tip, get there early to hang out in the outfield experience. Because many families and baseball fans tailgate in the parking lot, it will give you and your kids an opportunity to have fun and explore what Kauffman Stadium has to offer.
Whether you call it Kauffman Stadium, or the K, it is a stadium with old school charm but with many of the modern amenities that make it one baseball destination that you and your family will not want to miss.