Great Stadiums (6): Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium at 40

This photo barely does this ultra-sleak, modernist-lean stadium justice

This photo barely does this ultra-sleek, Modernist-lean stadium justice

It is now the sixth-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball and will forever be one of the most graceful. I (Evander) have long had a fondness for Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.

In recent times upgraded with all the amenities of first- and second-wave retro fields, the K (today only the third major-league stadium named after a person and not a team or, way more commonly, a faceless corporation), saw one of the first of the modern drainage systems installed during its switch from AstroTurf to grass. Till the Colorado Rockies were born, the Royals probably had the most widespread fan base—literally—of any club. The last thing management wanted was for families to drive 150 miles to find that a local thunderstorm had washed away the game.

Speaking of water, the K has the largest privately funded fountain in the world.

One of the other really neat features of the park is the Buck O’Neil Memorial Seat, honoring the late national-treasure spokesperson for the variegated history of the Negro leagues.

The early 1970s is not an era noted for its style: clothes, mutton-chop sideburns, Fu Manchu or walrus mustaches, blown-dry hair, impersonal arena-scale rock acts, or the reinforced-concrete modality of public-works architecture. Kauffman Stadium is the exception that proves the design rule. As seen in the photo, nearby sits Arrowhead Stadium, home of the American-football Chiefs. Uniquely for its era, each was created to showcase one sport and not for multipurpose possibilities.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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