The possibility of a downtown ballpark has always been around here in Kansas City. But thanks to a new owner and the Kauffman Stadium lease ending in less than a decade, we’re closer to a downtown baseball stadium than we’ve ever been. This possibility was recently reinforced by new owner John Sherman, who has said that they’re considering downtown as a potential option when the lease runs out.
Kauffman Stadium has, over the last two decades, made its transition to an MLB icon. Other stadiums from the area kept getting replaced by newer facilities, while Kauffman remained. Today, it is the sixth-oldest stadium in the league; while 18 ballparks are less than 25 years old, Kauffman Stadium is approaching its 50th year of operation. It has hosted four World Series and a pair of All-Star Games, and has been the site of a few all-time moments.
Independent of whether or not the Royals should move to downtown is what the Royals should be looking at for potential designs of a downtown stadium. If they move from Kauffman, a beloved and iconic stadium, they’ve got to get it right. These are the elements that they must have.
Also called The City of Fountains, Kansas City has over 200 registered fountains the metro area. It is an indelible part of the city’s history. The fountains at Kauffman Stadium are particularly noteworthy. They are 322 feet wide and are the largest privately funded waterfalls in the world. Listen to a tour of the Hall of Fame and you’ll hear a story about how Muriel Kauffman, wife of Royals owner Ewing Kauffman, was personally involved in their first iteration.
Any new downtown stadium must have fountains, full-stop. While a downtown stadium would definitely be more compact than the sprawling Kauffman, which does not have to confirm to city blocks, there’s more than enough space to incorporate fountains into a new deisgn. And none of this “token fountain” stuff—it needs to be prominent, and preferably a place where players can hit home run balls into.
Every stadium has a big video board, but I don’t really think it’s much of a stretch to say that Crown Vision is the most iconic video board anywhere. Viewable from the highway, Crown Vision is even recognizable to those who never set foot in the stadium. At one point, it was the largest high definition video board in the world.
Look; I don’t want a replication of Kauffman Stadium. I recognize that it’s probably impossible to put a similarly prominent Crown Vision video board at a downtown stadium. But that element is just so unique, and it’s not one that other teams can replicate. Be creative on this one, designers.
Royals Hall of Fame and Statues
If you haven’t been out to the Royals Hall of Fame out in left field, you’ve been missing out. It’s a great experience, with pictures and articles like Alex Gordon’s collection of Gold Gloves and game-worn jerseys from the 2015 World Series team. Likewise, the Royals have a collection of bronze statues depicting the most famous players and most important figures from their history.
But there’s one main problem with the Hall of Fame: it’s inaccessible. Its entrances are entirely within Kauffman Stadium itself, which itself is in an inconvenient space. This is one thing that a downtown stadium could totally hit it out of the park. A new Hall of Fame space could have two entrances, one within the stadium and one to the street. It would make it easy for residents and out of town visitors alike to learn about Royals history.
And as far as the statues, well, maybe there could be the opportunity to commemorate a new statue, maybe one of a certain Nebraskan outfielder during an important World Series moment as he rounds first base. Just a thought.
What are some must-have features for you?