Only Kauffman Stadium remains. Only Kauffman Stadium, among the parks of its era, was built solely for baseball, with proper sightlines and seats pointing the right way and that enormous crown which focused all your attention towards centerfield. Once the A’s, Mets, and Yankees move into their new ballparks, Kauffman Stadium will be the fifth-oldest park in the majors.
Wrigley Field: 1916
Dodger Stadium: 1962
Angel Stadium: 1966
Kauffman Stadium: 1973
Skydome...er, the Rogers Centre, which opened in the middle of the 1989 season, will rank sixth.
The bond measure which passed a few years ago all but assures it will remain the Royals’ home for another quarter-century, for good reason: it’s a terrific ballpark. It’s easy to get to, the parking lot is the biggest this side of Great America, and the fountains are one of the most distinctive flourishes for any stadium in baseball, if not all of sports. Once they ripped out the turf a decade ago, you really could not file an aesthetic complaint against the place. The one legitimate gripe was that the sports complex, set off from
But today, when more than half the teams in baseball play in a mallpark that’s less than two decades old, and almost every one of them has been wedged into an urbanized downtown setting where you can walk from the business district to your seat, then stop at a bar on the way out – Kauffman Stadium feels almost delightfully retro. The ballpark isn’t a way station between dinner on the waterfront and a nightcap at a piano bar. It’s a place you go to watch a baseball game, and it was designed for that singular purpose. I love it. And I can’t wait to see what it looks like when all the ongoing renovations – an enormous jumbotron, an even larger crown scoreboard, wider concourses, more food options, etc. – are completed by Opening Day 2009.