KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While the pitching rules are more concrete changes, Kansas City Royals fans are bracing for another anticipated change, this one dealing with a future venue change.
On Opening Day, a lot of fans were thinking about the possibility of downtown baseball. And they are expressing pretty mixed feelings.
Many fans in attendance Thursday view a shift to downtown baseball as as a major cultural change affecting, yes, where they’ve been coming the last 50 years, but also – quite possibly – taking away a tradition like tailgating.
Not making as much sense to some fans: downtown baseball, viewed as the sunset for tailgating, a trade some fans don’t want to consider.
“I personally don’t. I’ve been to St. Louis. I mean, they’re good if you’re staying in a hotel downtown,” Royals fan Steve Faris said.
Another fan, Marsha Dale, said she had been to every opening day since Kauffman opened in 1973, grilling often.
“We’re going to have some chicken wings and some stuffed peppers,” she said, pointing to their smoker.
“I’m trying to not be attached to that. I love this place. I mean, I grew up literally a mile away from here,” Dale said.
“I love this place and I know the downtown stadium is coming. And I’ll deal with that later,” Dale said.
Dale says she has mixed feelings about it.
“I do. I do understand, I think Jackson County and Kansas City could have done a better job at making the surrounding area better here honestly. Having grown up here, I know. But everybody loves downtown and if it helps the Royals generate more revenue, then I’m good,” Dale said.
“It’s probably going to be a deal breaker for me,” Dreyer said.
“Kind of torn up between that. Downtown’s alright but I like it out here too,” Craig said.
Others are open-minded, especially if a downtown stadium leads to a Royals resurgence.
“I just want more people to also want to be here because when people say ‘Oh, the Royals aren’t that good,’ I don’t want that negativity in my life. So whatever gets more fans to be here and come out for the games,” Royals fan M. Jones said.
But the ultimate attitude for many fans is that the stadium and decisions around it are out of their hands.
“You know, if it does, it does. So I will adapt to it,” Faris said.
The reality for fans is also this: there’s no definitive spot for a downtown stadium picked out yet so it is hard to know exactly what the layout will look like. But if the main plan for parking relies on ramps and structures – fans speculate it will result in an end to tailgating because grills are not allowed in those areas.
The Kansas City Royals fell to the Minnesota Twins 2-0 on Opening Day. It’s not how fans hoped the start of the season would play out, but they showed up to support the team anyway.
New data shows more than 38,000 fans attended Thursday’s home opener, effectively selling out the stadium, which is something that hasn’t happened in 2018.
“I’m really hopeful at the beginning of the year, but you know what I’d like to see a 500 season, and then I think two seasons from now everybody better watch out,” said Jo Caldwell, a fan since she was just a child.
Dave Leon, a season ticket holder for 30 years, said he doesn’t expect this season to be like in 2015 when the Royals won the World Series.
“They didn’t do a lot of acquisitions over the off-season. I’m just hoping they can make 500,” he said.