The Saturday, Aug. 19 edition of the Globe included an Adam’s angle column with the headline, “Vacation over, let’s play ball.”
When I submitted that column I anticipated covering the Benedictine women’s soccer game Monday night, but that was canceled because of the heavy rain and lightning. So, I haven’t covered anything quite yet. That’ll change as this week concludes, though, so I promise, vacation is truly over.
I spent this past weekend in Chicago, visiting friends and taking in as much as the city has to offer with my wife. It was an end-of-summer trip, a final, short vacation.
We did the tourist stuff: took a tour of the Chicago Theater, visited Millennium Park (home of that reflective bean thing), used the Blue, Brown and Orange lines (trains), took a river tour of the city and had deep dish pizza (twice). We also visited three different German restaurants/bars, which was a really cool experience.
But, the No. 1 visit we had planned, in my mind, was a trip to Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon for a Cubs game against Toronto. I’ve watched Cubs games on television for as long as I can remember. I would come home from school in April and May and then again in August and September, and a Cubs game would be on WGN almost every time.
I would listen to Harry Caray’s call, see the ivy on the brick outfield wall, look at all the sun-drenched spectators, view shots of the rooftop fans across the street and the manual scoreboard.
Seeing all this in person was just as satisfying as I hoped it would be, and it was a great feeling to catch a game in such a historical park.
Before the game, our group grabbed lunch and a drink in Wrigleyville, the area near the park that is full of restaurants and bars. The atmosphere, as you might imagine, was incredible. Fans decked out in Cubs and Toronto gear were everywhere. It made me even question my love for Kauffman Stadium.
Don’t get me wrong, when talking about the actual park, Kauffman is better than Wrigley. Kauffman has wider concourses, a better restroom situation, areas to stand to watch the game instead of sitting only in your seat, no support poles blocking your view and more convenient concessions areas.
The area where Wrigley and other downtown stadiums beat Kauffman is the experience outside of the stadium. The restaurant/bar scene and options surrounding the stadium are much better than just the empty parking lot of the Truman Sports Complex. Plus, spectators (like my group on Saturday) can take the train and then walk a few blocks to Wrigley – no car or parking needed. Sure, tailgating at a Royals game is a blast if you know how to do it right, but I’d trade the outside-of-the-stadium experience in a heartbeat.
The downtown stadium debate has been going on for as long as I remember. Since I had only ever been to Kauffman, I didn’t see any reason to relocate the Royals to another part of KC. Now that I’ve finally experienced a stadium surrounded by neighborhoods, I realize how great it would be if the Royals were the same.
Imagine going to something like “Royalsville” and grabbing some barbecue and Boulevard beer. KC fans and rival fans could trade cheers for their team in a fun, bubbly environment. It’s almost like a carnival that happens 81 times each season.
Since Kauffman was recently renovated, I don’t see any reason for the Royals to move right away. I still think it’s beautiful on the inside. But I hope at some point in my life, the Royals move to a downtown-type area and I can experience Wrigleyville in Kansas City.