Kauffman Stadium is one of the most beautiful stadia in MLB and in many ways it is an utter joy to watch a game there. I have sat a dozen rows from the top and well down the line and I have still had a very good view of the action. When sitting behind the plate, or roughly so, the panorama can be breathtaking. And, of course, the Kansas City Royals recently renovated Kauffman Stadium to improve the fan experience. The concourses are wider, the Hall of Fame is more prominent and the concessions stands are easier to patronise. These are all excellent attributes and the Royals should be applauded for doing so much. But there is one glaring oversight: the in-game ‘entertainment’.
Before the game a very chipper woman puts some of the early arriving fans (who volunteer, of course) through some simple game whilst urging the rest of the crowd to help. It is not entertaining, though the only objectionable bit is that her voice is so high-pitched that the loudspeakers don’t handle it very well and it is borderline unintelligible by the time it comes through. My brother once rather aptly compared it to one of the animated chipmunks off the telly. The woman also usually makes a set of poorly-thought-out observations or one-liners at various occasions before first pitch. Note that I do not, of course, blame her for any of this as it is clearly scripted.
The problem lies with not only the script, but with the whole concept. It used to be that they would play video montages from Royals history or show current league stats on the board whilst the fans filed in. This was excellent as some of the videos were very well done and the stats provided a nice conversation starter. What the Royals seem to have failed to understand here is that the fans who come early to the game do so willingly and thus do not need to be entertained. I myself like to watch batting practice for a bit and then go to the concession stand before reading through one of the game programmes or Royals magazines they have. Closer to first pitch I will start going over my scorecard. That is just me, of course, but none of the fans are compelled to wait and thus are not in need of entertainment.
In between innings of the actual game is worse though. The bits like the animated hot dog race are weird, but unobjectionable. But then often there is the high pitched woman back playing another game with fans and worse, far worse, is Garth Brooks. Every single home game ahead of the bottom of the sixth inning they play the first verse and chorus of ‘Friends in Low Places’. Every single game. For those not familiar this is one of the single most tasteless, anti-intellectual, anti-education songs I have ever heard. The singer is a backward, uneducated redneck and proud of it. It is an utterly disgraceful song at it caters to every negative stereotype of Kansas City imaginable. Yet they play it every game. It is without question the single most disagreeable aspect of attending a game in person and it something so easily fixed. Hopefully they do soon.
There is no conceivable reason they should ever play that song, but there is little reason for any of the other in-game entertainment either. I can see the desire for a bit of a diversion, after all few of the fans will be counting up pitches from the last half inning as I am, but they underestimate the fans if they think they need something so intrusive. I don’t mean they should go back to the old organ music (though I would not mind), but something much more minimalist would be ideal. They should remember that most people are there to watch baseball.