Stadium rennovations provide entertainment

After seeing a KC Royals baseball game in newly renovated Kauffman Stadium on Memorial Day, I was in a daze. Some of you are thinking, ?So what else is new,? but let me explain.

This stadium has it all?flashing lights, a loud sound system, wider concourses, a variety of dining options, a Hot Dog Derby, a colossal hi-def scoreboard, a play area called the Outfield Experience and more.

Kauffman Stadium provides entertainment in every sense of the word. Obviously, baseball owners have figured out that if they are going to hold on to their share of entertainment dollars, they have to provide much more than just baseball.

In days gone by, your kid probably could have taken a nap on your lap during a game. Not so today.

My 6-year-old son, Nathan, rested his head on my lap, but in between innings, he was rudely awakened by the sound system. The noise gave him such a jolt that he sat up with a wide-eyed look that screamed, ?What in the world was that??

If you haven?t tried the Outfield Experience, you haven?t experienced the new-age baseball stadium. For a fee, young kids can swing at a few pitches in a miniature baseball stadium.

Another activity gives fans a chance to test their pitching prowess, clock their time and possibly hurt their arm in the process.

Yet another area gives people of all ages a chance to step up and swing the bat in a glorified batting cage.

And then there?s the chance to burn up the base paths and see how fast you are when you take a test sprint. No extra charge for pulling a muscle.

For the kiddies, there?s also a playground and a carousel.

For miniature golf enthusiasts, there?s a baseball-themed five-hole mini golf course.

There?s even a game lounge that allows you to test your skills.

You might ask, ?Why would anyone spend so much time at the Outfield Experience during a game??

But as the Royals fell farther behind, then lost 13-1, it dawned on me. The way the Royals play sometimes, their fans may need all the beyond-the-outfield distractions they can get.

Seriously though, Kauffman Stadium has been and is still a great place to watch a game, if you can force your eyes to stay on the game. If you have an attention deficit, good luck.

There are TV screens at the Outfield Experience and throughout the stadium if you want to renew your experience of watching baseball on TV.

Back in the day, you went to watch the game. Nowadays, the game is almost an aside.

There are statistics with information galore on a variety of scoreboards. You can see how many pitches each pitcher has thrown that day, the number of balls and strikes and the speed of the pitch. You almost forget there?s a game going on.

Of course, when the home team makes a good play or gets a hit, you can always watch a replay on the big scoreboard.

It used to be that you could go to the concession stand or restroom without fear of missing anything between innings. Nowadays, you hate to leave your seat for fear you?ll miss something.

For example, the Royals run a Hot Dog Derby on the scoreboard once a game with a race between ketchup, mustard and relish. I have yet to understand why fans cheered wildly during the race. The only rational explanation is that a lot of fans aren?t sober.

For what it?s worth, as of this writing, ketchup has won six races so far this season, mustard eight and relish 10. This is courtesy of the Royals Web site. Really!

After the game, I walked in a zig-zag pattern to my car, not because I had ingested adult beverages, but because the parking lot was littered with bottles and cans. Maybe that?s why it costs $9 to park?to clean up afterward.

In an effort to keep Major League Baseball in Kansas City, millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on improving the home of the Royals. And make no mistake, the stadium is improved and worth seeing.

Sorry, but I didn?t watch enough of the game to know if the team is improved.

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