KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baseball is back, and the Kansas City Royals are taking on the Cleveland Guardians for Opening Day on Thursday.

Not since they won back-to-back American League pennants in 2014 and 2015 — and went on to win their first World Series in three decades — have the Royals started a season with the same amount of optimism that they carry into Thursday’s opener.

“The first conversation we had in this clubhouse is the expectation. In our mind, it’s championships, and that’s plural. How do we build on the things we’re doing?” said Royals manager Mike Matheny, who’s been working on the team’s rebuild.

Kansas City has improved its win percentage each of the past three seasons and wants to take the next step toward being a contender.

“I truly believe winning is a habit, and you just kind of have to have that level of expectation, and you start getting players that buy into that, and you realize it’s extremely special,” Matheny said.

“But you also look around here and take an honest evaluation of where we are. This is in front of us right now. This isn’t us building for the future. It’s right here, right now. It’s unique. The guys smell it. And to be in the middle of it, there’s no place I’d rather be.”

This season, pitcher Zack Greinke makes his much-anticipated return to Kansas City, and MLB’s top prospect, Bobby Witt Jr., makes his debut, perhaps the most anticipated in club history.

Another change this season: The Royals are debuting a new slogan.

This year the Royals are asking the city to #BringOutTheBlue. The team hopes fans will turn the city blue for every home stand during the 2022 season.

Now the question going into Opening Day is if they’ll give them something to cheer about.

Game time

First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT Thursday.

All gates open 1 hour prior to game time; however, Gate C opens 2 hours prior for CommunityAmerica Credit Union Crown Club ticket holders only.

Tickets

If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, there’s still time.

Whether you want to sit close to home plate, past outfield to catch a homerun ball or in the upper levels to see it all, there are still seats available. Prices range from less than $30 to nearly $400.

Find tickets for Opening Day direct from the Royals here. If you’re looking for tickets on the secondary market, StubHub is the official ticket resale marketplace for the Royals.

The Kauffman Stadium Box Office will also be open 2.5 hours prior to game time. Fans can also buy tickets via phone by calling 1-800-6ROYALS from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

All tickets have to be accessed through the MLB Ballpark App. Printed tickets are no longer accepted at Kauffman Stadium.

Parking

Parking gates at Truman Sports Complex open several hours before each game; however the team does not set a designated time.

General parking is $20 this season, a Reserved Parking pass is $30, and an Oversize Vehicle Parking pass is $40 — if you pay in advance online.

Fans are highly encouraged to purchase parking in advance online and have it pulled up on the MLB Ballpark app. Buy parking passes online and find a map to the complex here.

If you’re unable to pre-purchase, parking prices go up. Parking passes purchased at the tollgates are $30 for General, $40 for Reserved, or $50 for Oversized Vehicle. Fans can pay via credit card at the designated tollbooths at Gates 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Getting through the gate

All gates open 1 hour before game time.

The Royals have a clear bag policy, which means backpacks and purses are prohibited. Fans can only bring the following bags into the stadium:

  • One clear bag no larger than 12” x 12” x 6” with all items inside easily visible.
  • One-gallon clear zip-seal bag (Ziploc® bag or similar).

Small clutch bags that do not exceed 9″ x 5″, with or without a handle or strap, may be carried into the stadium along with one of the clear bag options.

An exception may be made for medical reason or manufactured diaper bags that accompany infants and young children after proper inspection.

Fans can bring one sealed/unopened plastic bottle of water/sports drink per person.

Several items are prohibited at Kauffman Stadium, including hard-sided coolers, alcoholic beverages, weapons/fireworks, bullhorns/airhorns/cowbells, lasers or laser pens, baseball bats and more.

See the Royals’ full list of prohibited items here.

Weather

Royals fans will wake up in the upper 30s with clouds increasing as the day progresses. 

Unfortunately, those cloudy conditions and even some rain or light drizzle are possible after the first pitch of Royals home opener. Highs Thursday will be stuck in the mid 40s.

Fans should plan on bringing a jacket to Kauffman Stadium to cheer on the Royals and stay warm.

Lineups

The Royals have former Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke on the hill. They have the game’s top prospect, Bobby Witt Jr., at third base. And they return just about everyone else from last season when they once again improved their win percentage.

The team released its official Opening Day lineup Thursday:

1. Whit Merrifield, RF
2. Bobby Witt Jr., 3B
3. Andrew Benintendi, LF
4. Salvador Perez, C
5. Carlos Santana, 1B
6. Hunter Dozier, DH
7. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
8. Michael A. Taylor, CF
9. Nicky Lopez, 2B

On the other side of the field, right-hander Shane Bieber will get the start for Cleveland after an injury-riddled 2021 season.

Here’s the starting lineup for the Guardians:

1. Myles Straw, CF
2. Amed Rosario, LF
3. José Ramírez, 3B
4. Franmil Reyes, DH
5. Bobby Bradley, 1B
6. Yu Chang, 2B
7. Steven Kwan, RF
8. Austin Hedges, C
9. Andrés Giménez, SS

Have a bite

Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium means new food options — like a BBQ Reece’s Sandwich — for Royals fans.

Food services provider Aramark is also rolling out some creative new options for fans to try this season.

That BBQ Reese’s Sandwich will be available at The BBQ Pit in Section 251. It features pulled pork topped with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and bacon bits. The sandwich will cost $10.95.

If that’s a little too outside your comfort zone, another comfort food creation may be just what’s in order.

The Brisket Grilled Cheese is smoked brisket, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese on Texas toast. Fans will find this new sandwich, costing $9.89, at KC Press in Section 230.

If you want to see every dining option at the K, and their menus, you can find a full guide on the Royals’ website.

Going cashless

The Royals and Kauffman Stadium are going cashless for the 2022 season, which means cash will not be accepted at parking tollgates, the box office, concessions or team stores.

A credit or debit card or mobile wallet will be required for all purchases.

For fans that only have cash as an available payment, there will be reverse ATM machines at Kauffman Stadium, allowing fans to exchange cash for a payment card that can be used at any location that accepts Mastercard.

How to watch from home

Can’t make it to the K for Opening Day? Don’t worry. There are a few ways to watch the Royals and the Guardians face off.

The game will be televised live on MLB.TV, and good news: It’s the platform’s free game of the day. Fans can also watch the game on Bally Sports Kansas City or listen on 610 Sports Radio.

Season schedule

If you’re already planning a future trip to Kauffman Stadium to cheer on the Boys in Blue, there are dozens of games to choose from.

Along with usual divisional play, here are a few season highlights:

  • The Yankees come to town from April 29-May 1 for a three-game series.
  • A few days later on May 3-4, the Royals host the Cardinals for the popular I-70 Series.
  • The Royals will take on the Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium from June 6-8.
  • Former Royals player Brett Phillips and the Rays come to KC from July 22-24.
  • As part of interleague play, former Royals star Eric Hosmer and the Padres will visit on Aug. 26-28
  • The Royals’ last home series of the regular season will be against the Mariners from Sept. 23-25.

Games missed due to labor negotiations will be made up as double-headers and with three games against the Guardians moved to the end of the season, which means the Royals will end the year with six consecutive games in Cleveland.

You can find the Royals full schedule here.

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