Archive for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Major league munchies: Renovated Kauffman Stadium home to expanded array of culinary options

Tom Hilger, his grandson Haris Hilger, 5, and Ronda Davis, all of Lawrence, sample foods from the new culinary venues at Kauffman Stadium. In the foreground is stadium chef Michael Slavin.

Tom Hilger, his grandson Haris Hilger, 5, and Ronda Davis, all of Lawrence, sample foods from the new culinary venues at Kauffman Stadium. In the foreground is stadium chef Michael Slavin.

April 8, 2009


Food at the K

Kauffman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals, has a whole new menu — and some of it is more gourmet than your typical ballpark fare. Get a sneak peak through the eyes of some Lawrence season-ticket holders. Enlarge video

— Michael Slavin has been hard at work for opening day.

Slavin is the executive chef for Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. That’s right — a ballpark has a chef.

Gone are the days when hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks were the only menu options. That’s especially the case this year at the newly remodeled Kauffman Stadium.

But for as many details Slavin has worried about — everything from chipotle mayo on gourmet burgers to the cooking time at a new barbecue restaurant — he knows there’s one thing that’ll make the food taste even better, and it’s out of his control.

“Everything,” he says, “is better when they’re winning.”

New options

Coinciding with a $250 million stadium renovation, the Royals have turned their stadium food locales over to Aramark, which operates food service at 15 Major League Baseball stadiums.

That means new food venues, especially in the right-field plaza area. Those include:

• Rivals Sports Bar, a 150-seat restaurant that will serve menu items such as chicken nachos and hot wings.

• All-Star BBQ, which will feature a full array of Kansas City-style barbecue options such as burnt ends, ribs and brisket.

• Sluggerrr’s Training Table, with special kid-sized portions.

In addition, some concession stands around the stadium will offered specialized foods, such as the KC Cantina, which will offer burritos and other Mexican food.

“Baseball is an eating sport, and I think as you see a lot of these venues — baseball parks — opening like this, it’s much more than just what’s on the field,” says Scott McGinn, district manager for Aramark. “It’s about the entire fan experience.”

Taste test

With the home opener quickly approaching, we decided to gather a group of Royals fans together to sample some of the new food options at the stadium.

Our panel included Ronda Davis of Lawrence; Tom Hilger of Lawrence; Hilger’s 5-year-old grandson, Haris, a kindergartner at Sunflower School; and Hilger’s son, Cory, who lives in Overland Park. All are season-ticket holders.

“It’s always fun to be at the ballpark,” Davis says. “It’s just part of the summer experience. I’m hoping to be there for that great season.”

And Davis says food is an important part of that experience.

“I would say it’s important, especially when you’re bring kids and other people,” she says. “It is quite a trek. You’re here for at least four hours. Something other than just greasy old tater tots is probably a little more of a crowd draw.”

She was impressed with what she tasted. She liked the chicken nachos because they had guacamole, and she liked the barbecue options. She also liked the southwestern burger.

“I really liked the jalapenos,” she says. “The hamburgers before reminded me of what you get at school lunches. So this makes it a little more gourmet.”

Haris Hilger was impressed as well.

“I’m getting kind of full of the hot dog,” he says, noting that his should have ketchup only, please.

“I hate mustard,” he says.

Tom Hilger, meanwhile, was a fan of the cheesy corn, which will be sold at the barbecue shop.

But even with the new options, Hilger says he’ll take a simple approach come Friday’s home opener.

“It’ll be a hot dog,” he says. “I just want to keep it simple. I don’t need any gourmet for opening day. A hot dog, Pepsi and a bag of peanuts — that’s about all for me.”


A sampling of some of the foods available this year at Kauffman Stadium, in addition to the traditional ballpark fare:

• Blackened catfish sandwich ($9.50)

• KC ribeye steak ($10.50)

• Cheesesteak sandwich ($7.75)

• Onion rings ($4.75)

• Buffalo chicken sandwich ($7.75)

• Fish and chips ($8.50)

• Meatball sub sandwich ($6.50)

• Chicken tenders ($7.75)

• Pot roast slider ($9)

• Cobb salad ($10.50)

• Fruit cup ($4.50) and yogurt cup ($4)

• Hog wings ($10)

• Half rack of ribs and two sides ($16)

• Chicken nachos ($7.25)

• Jumbo hog dogs ($4.25)

• Barbecue brisket sandwich ($9)


justtired 9 years ago

Too bad the tickets and food are so expensive.

staff04 9 years ago

I was actually just thinking that, compared to food prices at stadiums in my area (DC-Baltimore), this looks like a relative bargain. Those prices are comparable to what one would pay in a decent restaurant. Can you still get $5 tickets at Hy-Vee?

Tony Kisner 9 years ago

I have been to Coors field and the Reds ball park. Both places let you bring in food from off the street. The Reds have $5.00 bleacher seat at the gate. I love businesses that make it easy to buy their stuff.

Boeing 9 years ago

You can still get tickets for $9 from the Royals themselves, so if you have a problem finding $9, you probably should not be going for sure

cellogrl 9 years ago

You can get regular tickets, but opening day is sold out completely. I was actually thinking that it sounded like a relative bargain for the food too. Most restaurants would be comparable.

jayhawker85 9 years ago

With all of the promotions, tickets aren't that bad. Remember, Jackson County residents are the ones funding a lot of this (Thanks Missouri!). That said, what Easy_Does_It said is great for a team like the Royals. Improving, but not quite there yet. If you've got a family and get cheap tickets, you can spend more getting them snacks than you spent on tickets.

If they want to charge all this money for concessions, then why not let family bring in one small cooler just so people fill the seats. Ticket sales make more than concessions if you can fill the ball park, so why not allow it.

Another idea would be to put a couple QuickTrips in the "K" just like the Sprint Center has done. The sprint center seats more people and sells out most its events than the Royals do. Adding this option could really help draw folks to the ballpark. Kansas City is one of the cheapest places to see a MLB game. If a couple of parents don't have to worry about breaking their budget on concessions, then Royals tickets might not seem so bad.

I know last year when gas was twice what it is now, the Royals partnered with QuickTrip to offer free tickets to anyone that spent $40 to fill up their gas tank. Considering they have already done business with QuickTrip before, it would make sense to pull off this move.

dontcallmedan 9 years ago

Go over the list. Non meat-eaters be damned.

TopJayhawk 9 years ago

dontcallmedan. I have a friend who is vegitarian. (don't we all) He gets the polish sausage without the sausage. They don't know how to charge for it, so they give it to him for free. Then he loads it up (the bun) with onions and peppers, mustard and all the other stuff, and says it tastes great. All for freee.

dontcallmedan 9 years ago

Thanks TopJay- If I ever get a free ticket to the Royals I'll try that. Of course, I'm gonna need a free parking pass and a per diem.

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