This trip had been in the making for over a year and was bound to happen at some point. The division rival Kansas City Royals play in a top ten MLB stadium just 6.5 hours away, making a weekend trip possible to see the Twins on the road. Since the two teams played a Saturday night game followed by a Sunday day game, we got to see two games on just one overnight and avoiding extreme driving hours. While Tony, James, and others made the same trip in July over the dates I originally planned on, Dave and I coordinated to make a budget speed trip in mid-September for lower attendance and cooler weather. The first part ended up being true, since both teams were playing meaningless baseball with two weeks to go (attendance was around 20,000 each game), but it was unseasonably warm with temperatures reaching 90 degrees both days. Though hot, this meant that we didn’t have to pack a jacket or worry about rain delays, and I truly appreciated the last days of summer weather. I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time and its completion marked my ninth current MLB stadium at which I’ve attended a game, the third time I had seen the Twins on the road (Angel Stadium in 2011 and Miller Park in 2017), and my second true baseball road trip, a combination of my two favorite things.
I left my house at 5:45 on Saturday morning and arrived at the hotel at 2:00 pm, after picking up Dave and stopping for food and gas along the way. It proved to be a very easy drive but would’ve been tougher without good conversation. This was the view of the stadium from our hotel:
The Four Points by Sheraton was one of several hotels at the same freeway exit as the stadium and we decided to stay here so we didn’t have to deal with parking. We made the five minute walk over to the stadium just before 3:00:
…and crossed behind the outfield over to the left field gate for Early Bird BP:
For $12 more per ticket, you can get in 2.5 hours early, where you are confined to foul territory down the left field line and the visitor’s bullpen for the first hour. We played catch to warm up (as if we weren’t already sweating) and pass the time until 3:30:
We also met up with TK who had last been seen at Ballhawk Fest. The Royals did not take BP today, so the only action for the first 15 minutes was the injured Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver getting loose and the Twins’ position players running sprints and playing catch. Overall, it was a very laid back atmosphere that early before game time with just a couple dozen fans in the stadium. I was able to get Garver to sign a ball down by the dugout:
It turned out great because Garver took his time and knows how to properly sign and prep a pen. I also got my favorite player, Eddie Rosario, to throw me a ball after Dave had gotten his attention earlier and pointed to the back of my red Rosario jersey I was wearing, which he acknowledged:
This was now the fourth stadium I had gotten a ball at after Target Field, Fenway Park, and Miller Park, but I really wanted to also snag a hit ball during BP like I had at the others. Even though I was in a good spot down the line when the Twins started hitting, I didn’t get any action:
This was as close as you could get this far into the outfield for the first hour, which was okay because I often position myself in a similar spot at Target Field for the final group of Twins hitters, but everything went to right field or left center. There were only two snaggable balls to enter the stands, both slicing into the seats in foul territory, so it was pretty slow. Miguel Sano once again highlighted the third group, so I moved behind the bullpen for his first few cuts before the stadium officially opened:
The rest of the outfield finally opened up with just five minutes left of BP and I moved over to left center in front of the fountains for Sano’s final swings:
Sano put on a show, blasting homers on just about every pitch, but once again proved that he is too good for the purpose of batting practice. At Target Field, he hit a bunch into the upper decks that are closed off at that time and at Miller Park, he hit several clear out of the stadium through the giant glass panels. I was able to easily move around thanks to a wide cross aisle at the back of the section, but the four rows of seats in front of the fountains were too steep to climb over without using the stairs. I could only watch as Sano deposited balls into and over the fountains and high off of the Royals Hall of Fame down the left field line. Dave was able to scoop up one fountain ball by leaning all the way over with his hat but that was frowned upon. Here are the signature fountains:
That was it for BP. Though the Royals never hit (the both times, including Fenway, that I paid money to get in extra early at a new stadium the home team didn’t even hit) and batting practice was dead for the first forty minutes as I was stuck down the line, it was still a blast to be ballhawking in a new stadium. The five minutes of having the obstacle of the fountains while chasing down Sano bombs was truly exhilarating. Several times, I would track the ball the whole way and get into position only to have the ball land over my head and off the back wall of the fountains. Naturally, I would turn around to play the ricochet, but I got a “kerplunk” instead.
We then made a couple of laps around the stadium taking pictures and looking for food. The following pictures will show just how beautiful the stadium is:
Sano had hit balls into this section above the fountains and off of the ribbon board above the green advertisement in left during BP.
The grass was pristine and separation between the outfield and the warning track was flawless. Check out this wide cross aisle down the right field line:
Here is the lower concourse:
We then took an escalator up to the upper deck:
The sleek glass paneled exterior and spiral ramps only added to the spaceship feel of the stadium. Here is the view from the very top of the 30 plus row upper deck:
Here was the view looking across the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs:
As we continued the lap around the stadium, we stopped into the Authentics Shop which was very impressive. They had game used jerseys, bats, hats, and balls, as well as every autographed item you can image and souvenirs from the stadium including infield dirt, fountain water, and framed pictures. All of it was easily sorted and displayed. Outside of the shop, they had a baseball card table selling individual base cards of every Royal and opponent and even full hobby boxes of new products at the standard price. I appreciated this as a card collector and wish that other stadiums would do this too.
Both Dave and I wanted to try the breakfast “Sunrise Dog” hotdog, but later learned that they discontinued it but not before spending 15 minutes looking for it. I settled for another specialty hotdog, Southern style:
It was a foot long with meat, cole slaw, barbecue, and pickles and had to be eaten with a fork. I knew I wanted to try something local or unique to the stadium and this did the trick. We had splurged for front row seats in left center field in the only true outfield section in the ballpark, in front of the fountains where I had been chasing down Sano bombs earlier:
Since our whole row was sold out, it got claustrophobic with little leg row and an obstructed view from fence. Still, it was a good place to catch a homerun:
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single homer hit the whole game. The game itself was very dull, so I decided to wander more around the stadium to see what it looked like at night. Here are the fountains that provided a cool mist, a clean chlorine smell, and a relaxing sound:
Here is the Twins bullpen:
I like the bullpen setup because you can watch players from all three sides of it but it does swallow up a bunch of homers. Here is the view down the line:
Here is the staircase to the outfield concourse:
Here is the outfield concourse:
And the area directly behind the batters eye that lets you walk quickly between right and left:
Here is my favorite standing room view in all of baseball behind the dancing fountains:
Here is the view from the corner of the upper deck:
Check out how far back the fountains go in right center:
I hung out for a couple innings with this view:
I actually liked being this high up. You could kick back on a perfect night and watch all the action without ever turning your head. Finally, this was the view of our outfield section, showing the the fountains, the cross aisle, and the step four rows of seats:
That was it for first game. The Twins lost 10-3. Since it was an early 6:15 start time, we made it back to the hotel by 9:30. This was the view of the stadium as we left:
The next morning, I got up at a much more reasonable time of 9:30 and made it to the stadium before 11 am after stopping for breakfast next to the hotel. Check out this cool view of both stadiums:
We made our way over to left field, completing a loop around the stadium by walking around first base and home plate this time:
Even though we were just two hours early, we got to see a couple of players, Alcides Escobar and Jose Berrios, enter the stadium, as well as the Twins TV and radio broadcast crew. There wasn’t anything to do once inside the stadium since there was no batting practice, so we just wandered around again. We were planning on sitting in the same section again, but thanks to a tip off from one of the many friendly ushers, we claimed first come, first serve drink rail seats in the Pepsi Party Porch which had not been rented out today. This is what it looked like in each direction:
There was only a handful of other people down there and we were the only ones with gloves. We stood up against the wall the whole game and had plenty of running room because the walkway behind the blue line was clear. This was the view:
For selected power lefties, I went up to the empty flat area in front of the fountains:
It was arguably a better spot, but I still moved back and forth for different batters using this convenient staircase:
Whenever I went up top, it meant Dave had the whole lower deck to himself. Check out how much room he had:
We had a good chance of catching a homerun because both righties and lefties could reach us. Luckily, there was a lot more action today. The teams combined for five homers and we were close on two of them. In the third inning, Max Kepler crushed a ball to Dave’s right on his side of the deck. He didn’t get there in time and it was claimed in a scramble that he was unintentionally blocked from by people trying to take cover. In the 5th inning, Adalberto Mondesi of the Royals hit a moonshot that carried over my head, landed on the upper platform, and bounced into the upper fountains. I read it all the way and was able to get to where I thought it would land, about 30 feet from where I was positioned. I jumped though I knew I had no chance to make a fool of myself on TV:
In hindsight, I should’ve been playing him up top since I knew he has sneaky power after seeing him hit a plaza shot earlier in the year at Target Field. It would’ve been the easiest catch ever with no competition. Just look at the people ducking for cover in the photo above! Since no one even got a hand on it, the ball was claimed by the fountains which was a shame.
The only other highlight was in the middle of the third inning when I got centerfielder Max Kepler to throw me his warmup ball, just minutes after he hit a homerun in the top of the inning:
That was the only other ball I got this trip and neither of them were KC 50th Anniversary commemoratives. I ended with one tossup each game, but they both came in cool ways so I’m happy with that. That was it for the game. The Twins won 9-6 in a lot more of an entertaining game. This was the my final view of the field:
We were on the road again before 5:30 after stopping for food near the hotel. We drove (but I did all the work) straight through, not even stopping for gas until reaching the Twin Cities. I arrived back home just before 1:00 am, completing the speed trip with no problems arising. These were the souvenirs that I took home, thanks to a couple of awesome stadium giveaways:
The trip was a huge success and the easy drive and convenient hotel made it likely for a return in the future. I was blown away by how nice everyone was. We had at least a dozen positive interchanges with fans, ushers, and employees and not a single negative one. They had the best qualities of Southerners mixed with the best qualities of Midwesterners, so they were essentially a hyperbreed of the two nicest American regional groups. Their fans were hospitable, knowledgeable, and passionate, adding to the charm of Kauffman Stadium. I was already a fan of the ballpark before I visited, ranking it number 7 of 30 in my post Ranking All 30 MLB Stadiums, but it climbed even higher. I love the unique design and the outfield configuration is a fun challenge that can definitely work towards your advantage. It is definitely the best small market stadium and my second favorite stadium I’ve visited after Fenway.
Thanks for reading and thanks to Dave for making this speed trip possible. Blogging about new stadiums is one of my favorite parts of each visit, so I’m glad that they are popular. This was the first time I ever blogged about two games in one, but it worked out better for this trip to just write one long post. I apologize if it was lengthy, but we packed a lot into just 48 hours. If you enjoyed this trip recap, you can check out my other stadium visits/ballpark reviews:
- Tigers vs. White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field) – 7/24/16
- World Baseball Classic 2017: USA vs. Colombia at Marlins Park
- Cubs vs. Padres (Petco Park) – 5/29/17
- Twins vs. Brewers (Miller Park) – 8/9/17
- Brewers vs. Reds (Great American Ball Park) – 7/1/18
And if you just liked all the pictures, check out these stadium tours:
This was my last game of the regular season, so be on the lookout for several posts this offseason. Also, be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins (I can’t wait for 2019)!