This serves as the eighth post in my third season of a series called “Down on the Farm” that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout the 2013 campaign. (All prior editions can be accessed here.)
The Kansas City Metropolitan Area spans endless terrain across Missouri and Kansas. For baseball fans in the Sunflower State, the opening of CommunityAmerica Ballpark a decade ago was a blessing. Home of the Kansas City T-Bones, it’s part of the “Village West” development roughly 20 miles from downtown.
Nestled between the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, this portion of Kansas City holds similarities to the area surrounding Trustmark Park in Mississippi, which I described last month. Though Village West is clearly larger, newer and fancier, numerous chain restaurants, Cabela’s and a Great Wolf Lodge exists, so it’s still Americana personified.
Also included within the complex are sports venues, such as the Kansas Speedway and a soccer stadium called Sporting Park, which holds 20,000 spectators. Sporting Kansas City played at CommunityAmerica for three seasons, but moved to the new venue in 2010, leaving the baseball stadium for its original intention.
Roughly 6,000 fixed seats are available at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, but there’s room for many more with party areas and a sprawling berm in right field. Like many modern ballparks, a spacious concourse circles the diamond with plenty of room for fans to navigate. The field is sunk below, so spectators can watch the game from concession lines or anywhere on the concourse. Foul territory is limited, placing seats close to the field.
When soccer finally vacated three years ago, left field bleachers were removed and an 18-foot high “Mini-monster” was erected down the line just 300 feet from home plate. Angled bullpens are nearby, where fans can watch pitchers warm up in this asymmetrical outfield offering unique bounces and 411-foot power alleys.
The stadium itself was constructed in just nine months. Free parking is offered, though vehicles are packed in on a dirt field beyond the outfield while season ticket holders are directed to a paved lot.
Though the T-Bones were 2008 Northern League champions, they’ve otherwise posted just two winning seasons (2010, 2012). The franchise joined the American Association in 2011 and have struggled on the field so far in 2013. None of this, however, has affected attendance negatively, as Kansas City sits atop the league, drawing more than 5,000 per opening.
I attended with 4,800 active, happy others on a Monday night, a very solid total for the first day of the week. The T-Bones record crowd was 10,300 in June 2007. CommunityAmerica also hosted the 2006 Northern League All-Star game.
As an additional perk, Frank White, who played nearly two decades with the Royals, is team’s first base coach. White was a five-time All-Star, eight-time gold glove winner and a 1985 World Series champion. He was most recently a Kansas City broadcaster from 2008-2011.