IN THE STANDS: New Kauffman doesn’t disappoint

Chris Marshall

Every team in Major League Baseball opens the season with optimism, hoping this is the year they win the World Series.

Your Kansas City Royals open with a similar belief: hoping they can finish above .500.

While logical Royal fans know the Royals won’t make it to the World Series, playoffs, 85 wins or the top two of their division (sorry), it’s still fun to pretend for the first half of April.

That’s why the construction of “The New K” has built so much excitement for 2009-10. It’s just another reason for fans to believe this year could be different.

The stadium’s not new, but it might as well be. There are party decks in right and centerfield, new bullpens, a modern-looking glass wall above the entrance and more restaraunts with increased selection.

Even the stadium’s trademark fountains and crown scoreboard have been updated, adding to the two features most recognizable in Kauffman Stadium.

The only things that haven’t changed are the field, which has always been nice, and the game’s result, which hasn’t been nice for 24 years.

After attending Saturday’s game against the Yankees, I was impressed overall with “The New K.” I haven’t been to the new multi-million dollar stadiums like those the Mets and Yankees play in, but Kansas City’s seemed like a good bang for its buck.

They created a stadium that feels new without tearing it all down and starting from scratch. The only price to complain about is the Chartwells-esque cost of food, which is expected in any ballpark.

The actual game left something to be desired. CC Sabathia was pitching for New York, which means the game had “6-1 loss” written all over it. But unlike last year’s games, fans didn’t leave shaking their heads. The experience of going to a new stadium is enough to make gamedays fun even in a loss.

Who knows. If potential all stars like Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria come through for the Boys in Blue, maybe 2010 could be “the year” for the Royals to get over the hump.

Kansas City finally stepped up and paid big bucks for a team that needed it. John Buck, and players of his caliber, are still on the field for the Royals, but they’re playing in a stadium that deserves high attendance.

The city showed commitment to the Royals. Now it’s time for fans to do the same and cheer for a team that is fully capable of winning (about 80 games).