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Adric at Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Adric at Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

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On the Road with Eli(zondo) and Adric ... in Kansas City

The Guide explores Kauffman Stadium

So you’ve decided to heed the call to adventure. Good for you. If you need to refer back to what the Guide actually is or who I actually am, please refer to the included links.


The best Triple-A ballpark in the Major Leagues

Introduction

The Guide has the following to say about going to a game at Kauffman Stadium:

Normally, one would be compelled to write a pun or some snark when writing about this place. But I cannot be bothered — whether it is from gluttony or heat-related exhaustion is an open question.

The title of this Guide entry aside, I did enjoy my time visiting Kaufmann Stadium.

However, I did wrestle with a feeling while I was there that I just could not identify, which is troublesome because I deal with feelings and words for a living. It was only later that I finally realized what the feeling was: humility.

During the Guggenheim era, there has generally been an expectation of success for the Dodgers. On the rare occasions that the Dodgers play poorly, it is newsworthy because of the weight of current expectations. On the opposite end of the expectation spectrum is the freedom from the expectation that is the lifecycle of the small market team, which is akin to a crop.

If you come when the team is in season, you will likely see a great game. If you come when the team is fallow, the Dodgers should win but you may not have the best of experiences. I am of the belief that bad, lop-sided baseball is less interesting than competitive baseball, even if the Dodgers come up short in the competitive game.

Going to Kauffman is a leisurely affair. If you are going for world-class facilities, you will be disappointed. If you are going for amazing food in the ballpark, you will be disappointed. If you are coming for an atmosphere other than going to a baseball game, you will be disappointed.

However, if you are going to watch a ballgame, and the weather cooperates, which is a mighty big if, you should have a nice time. The following is all you will need to know about going to a Dodgers/Royals game at Kauffman Stadium.

The Five Questions of the Guide:

1. Is it worth going here?

Yes, but if you have places you want to go first — it will keep.

(Also, the team may be trying to move to downtown Kansas City in the next five to ten years.)

Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

For all of its faults, Kauffman does have character and, in my view, is a worthwhile destination for a traveling Dodger fan. But there are cities that a Dodger fan should visit first; for example, at the risk of getting banned in Kansas City, St. Louis. For those not in the know, imagine if someone said something complimentary about Oracle Park while at Dodger Stadium.

Like its eastern cousin, Kauffman has an on-site Hall of Fame, which hosts its two World Championship trophies and is well worth your time. as admittance is free, unlike St. Louis. With Kauffman, there is a distinct lack of things to do apart from baseball-related activities as the ballpark shares a massive parking lot with GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium.

The parking lot at Kauffman Stadium.
It really is a large parking lot. Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

Tailgating before a Royals game is definitely a thing. Actor and proud Kansas City native son Paul Rudd, while extolling the virtues of the Z-Man sandwich, confirmed that the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium was the best-smelling parking lot in the league (for the food, not the people - as always people’s hygiene may vary). If you wish to partake, I would recommend either bringing your own food or bringing your own drinks, but please keep in mind, you have to be in the ballpark by the second inning, so plan accordingly and arrive early.

For the first-timer at Kauffman, you have to go online and print up your own First Game Certificate, which, as previously discussed, is lame for any major league franchise.

The tour of Kauffman Stadium is quite excellent as the guides are friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate about the team. Moreover, on the tour, you will tour the grounds, go into the Press Box, the previously-mentioned Royals Hall of Fame, and (circumstances permitting) go into the Royals dugout.

2. How should I get there?

Looking at home plate from center field. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
Looking at home plate from center field. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

Unless you lived nearby, I could hardly expect anyone to do anything but fly to Kansas City International. The airport is a tiny circular affair, but this information is a bit outdated as the airport just opened a new terminal. The main airport is just outside of town but the key thing to remember is that we are still talking about the Midwest. Expect a half-hour drive from Kauffman to the airport.

Google Maps Kansas City
A thirty mile drive in Los Angeles is (figurative) death. In Kansas City, it’s not that bad.
Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps

As to getting to the game, Kauffman Stadium is not near anything. In this one regard, I understand why the team wants to move downtown. But there is something to the fact that Kauffman is on the outskirts of town, and is providing a baseball oasis that one needs to actively choose to visit to experience. Besides, being separate from downtown has allowed a separate identity to develop.

If Royals ownership was smart, they would take a page from the McCourt playbook and develop the parking lots and land directly by Kauffman. It would be cheaper and the team could continue to embrace the identity that makes the park unique.

As it stands, while there is technically public transit that goes to and from Kauffman Stadium, your best bet is to drive. Parking costs are a bit high, especially if you do not prepurchase parking before arriving. Unless you need to leave Kauffman in a hurry, you can safely ignore Premium Parking and just arrive at the ballpark early to secure a decent parking space. Sadly, Royals’ games are sparsely attended, so it is unlikely that you will be parking in one of the lots further away from the stadium.

One thing of note is to avoid buying Early Bird Batting Practice tickets, which are a supplementary add-on that allows you to enter the park even earlier than normal. Per several conversations that I had with stadium personnel, if the weather is warm, the teams will use the air-conditioned hitting tunnels rather than hit on the field.

3. Where should I stay?

Considering the likelihood of the fact that anyone attending a Dodgers-Royals game will be doing so by flying and driving around, your options for a hotel that is nearby Kauffman Stadium are extremely limited and likely to be at a premium and fully booked, unless you booked well in advance.

One does not walk to Kauffman Stadium.
Courtesy of Google Maps

The parking lot of Kauffman Stadium empties quite quickly after games, so truthfully, you have plenty of flexibility in picking a hotel. It is best to think of Kansas City as a spoke and wheel as to its freeway design. If you go to a game here, you are likely going to be driving everywhere and finding parking relatively easily, unless you go downtown.

Personally, I would recommend going with the cheapest hotel near a freeway onramp for ease of coming and going. As you can see, you do not have that many options by the ballpark. Considering the ease of movement here, there is no need to limit yourself by picking a hotel by the airport, which is half an hour away from Kauffman.

4. Where should I sit?

After the game. Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022
After the game. Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

Before jumping into where one should sit at Kauffman Stadium, one should discuss the food at Kauffman. Shockingly, the vast majority of food offerings at Kauffman are quite mediocre. It is quite a shame. You would figure in a place that is known for such barbecue would have some decent options at the stadium. So unless you bring it yourself, there is a comical lack of decent food on the stadium grounds. Therefore, if you want to have barbecue, you need to either plan to tailgate or eat before you get to the stadium. My preference is Q39, a local chain of restaurants.

Proper brisket, burnt ends, and cucumber and dill salad. Q39. August 13, 2022.
Q39 brisket and burnt ends.
Michael Elizondo / TrueBlueLA

But above all, there are two items to avoid. In 2022, the Royals unveiled a sandwich containing pulled pork, barbecue sauce, bacon...and smashed-up Reese’s peanut butter cups. I really wish that sentence was a typo; it’s not.

Have you ever had a service worker judge you on buying something on the menu? Because with this sandwich at Kauffman — that happened!

I was asked if I was sure as it was 90 degrees and super humid. For the record, the sandwich just does not work (there’s just too much sweet in the sandwich that just disintegrates in your hand). But it was not the worst thing I ate that day. That would be the side of cheesy corn, which is basically cream corn with ham in it. I could not finish it. It was disgusting.

As to where to sit, seats at Kauffman are relatively inexpensive unless you are trying to sit directly behind home plate. But what kind of moron does that on accident? If you sit by the Dodgers’ dugout, just know that the seats are a bit closer together than you would expect. If you are tall and/or wide, expect to bang elbows with your neighbor. Otherwise, recommendations are fairly simple and are best categorized by answering a simple question: is it a day game?

Recommendations for a day game

The Loge Level at Kauffman Stadium. August 14, 2022.
The Loge Level at Kauffman Stadium. August 14, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

It is difficult to overstate the following sentence: the heat and humidity at Kauffman can be brutal. The only way to make those conditions worse is to be in direct sunlight. While the park does have free water jugs to draw from during games, they can and frequently do run out when it’s hot. So, why not save yourself some hassle and pick a seat in the one section that guarantees a nice view of the game with shade and easy access to bar facilities?

The Loge sections of Kauffman Stadium.
The Loge sections of Kauffman Stadium.
Courtesy of the Kansas City Royals / Illustration by Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

The Craft and Draft Bar down the left field line is a large bar area that is a popular hang-out spot before games. Sections 301 and 302 have easy access to this bar, but frankly, any seat on this level will provide ample cover from the sun. If you sit near the front row of these sections, you will have plenty of legroom to enjoy and watch the game.

Recommendations for a night game

From above the visitor’s bullpen, after the game. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
From above the visitor’s bullpen, after the game. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

Seats in the Loge will still work for a night game. However, when the sun goes down, you have more comfortable options for where to sit to watch a Dodgers/Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. One thing that may not be apparent about Kauffman is that there is a large amusement area past center field, as shown by the yellow circled area on the next seat map picture. In some respects, this area reminds me of a state fair, and it’s where I bought the now-infamous Resse’s-pulled pork sandwich. As to where to sit, it is easier to recommend where one should not sit.

Where NOT to sit at Kauffman Stadium.
Where NOT to sit at Kauffman Stadium.
Courtesy of the Kansas City Royals / Illustration by Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

Unless you live near Kauffman, odds are you have already spent a not-significant amount of money to come to a Dodgers/Royals game. There is no reason to skimp on the ticket price by sitting in the upper deck. From what I was able to tell, it was not a bad view by any means, but unless you are being extremely thrifty, there’s no reason to sit that high up.

The seats by the visiting bullpen are not bad per se. But for the cost, you are quite far away from the action, especially considering the seats in left field that are closest to the amusement area and fountains. Also, you are quite far away from the Dodgers’ relievers even if you are sitting in the front row in this section. I get the design decision, but I remember being disappointed with the quality of the seat, mostly due to the fact I ended up with heat exhaustion because of the lack of cover.

Andrew Heaney warming up. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
With some flexibility, you CAN get decent photos. Andrew Heaney warming up. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

I would be remiss if I did not point out the seats by the visiting bullpen’s proximity to the Royals of Hall of Fame, which is both free and air-conditioned. I was lucky enough to visit when the Hall hosted Buck O’Neil’s Cooperstown Hall of Fame plaque, which was pretty neat.

Michael making friends. Buck O’Neil. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
I made a friend in line whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. Sorry buddy. Kauffman Stadium. August 13, 2022.
Michael Elizondo / TrueBlueLA

In summary, for a night game, I would recommend the Loge, field level, or the seats in either center or left field if I wanted a social experience to go with my Dodger game.

5. After your trip, is it worth going back?

Hey, that was fun, but I don’t need to go back right away

After game fireworks. Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
After game fireworks. Kauffman Stadium. August 12, 2022.
Michael Elizondo/TrueBlueLA

I attended three-ish games at Kauffman Stadium in 2022, with muggy weather generally present throughout. The Dodgers took the first two of three in the series before laying an egg for the travel day.

In 2022, the stadium I looked most forward to seeing was Kauffman Stadium entirely for personal reasons. I grew up thinking that Kauffman looked neat and I have wanted to visit for a very long time.

Going to a game here is not a perfect experience, but if you follow the recommendations of the Guide, you should have an extremely pleasant experience visiting this tiny oasis. Kauffman is a place you go to because you want to see the Dodgers play in Kansas City or you have some draw to the area. Unlike its cross-state cousin at Busch Stadium 3.0 or PNC Park or Petco Park, Kauffman is not a destination. But it is a nice place to watch a ballgame and that counts for something.

One last thing...

Before wrapping this Guide entry up, there is one last thing you should do if you happen to go to Kauffman for a Dodger game: you need to take the time to visit the Negro League Hall of Fame.

The only real regret I have for my trip to Kauffman is that I did not have the chance to spend more time there, because the Dodgers themselves had the literal same idea. And as a result, the museum was swamped with folks who wanted to see the Dodgers, AND the museum was closed for the Dodgers to have a private visit.

I am hoping that said issue will not occur in the future because the Dodgers will be visiting every other year now. But some of us had a schedule to keep and have some decent barbecue (personally, Paul Rudd is wrong, the Z-Man is merely is okay, and even then you have to drench it in sauce) before racing back to the hotel to change and Kauffman. But life’s funny like that, and some stories are best shared on another day.

Adric: See you next time!

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