Home > Uncategorized > Is Kansas City Still a Baseball Town?

Is Kansas City Still a Baseball Town?

The short answer to that question, in my opinion, is yes. The Royals have been really bad for quite some time now. Their period of futility is not unmatched and not terribly rare, but for a city and a franchise that had known very little failure until this stretch of about 15 seasons, it is a wonder that there is still as much interest in the Royals as exists. While the team consistently ranks near the bottom of the league in attendance, the resilience of the fans is amazing. The team has averaged over 20,000 the last two seasons, and the fans have come to see some truly bad baseball. Part of that was aided by the strong start in 2009 and then Zack Greinke’s Cy Young quest, but I think the fans in Kansas City just love baseball, no matter the quality.

The reason this question popped into my head is because of some events across the street from Kauffman Stadium yesterday. I know this is a Royals blog, but I’m sure many of my readers are Chiefs fans, so I thought I’d devote a little time to them today while still keeping with a baseball theme. As you probably know by now, the Chiefs came into the day yesterday controlling their own destiny. If they won their last two games, they’d be in the playoffs as the champion of the AFC West. To put it in baseball terminology, their magic number was two meaning that any combination of Chiefs wins and Chargers losses that total two would give the Chiefs the division title. Well, they won yesterday against the Titans in resounding fashion and then waited for some help. The Chargers were in Cincinnati, though, so I’m guessing most of the players didn’t think it would be possible for them to lose. Well they did, and the Chiefs are now the division champions and will have a home playoff game in two weeks.

If you’re not a Chiefs fan, then you probably don’t care about all this, but someone mentioned how Kansas City is a football town and how the fans deserve this. I wish I could remember who said it, but it’s fairly irrelevant at this point. I agree with his assessment, though. This city loves the Chiefs, and the Chiefs have been bad for as long as the Royals in NFL standards where worst to first is standard operating procedure. Prior to this season, the Chiefs had won 10 games in three seasons. They’re 10-5 now in 2010. It’s big news and a fan base that consistently pays good money* to fill Arrowhead is going to get a playoff game it deserves. I guess I’m just sort of curious if there would be the same media reaction if and when the Royals win the Central and make the playoffs for the first time since I was just a wee lad.

*People complaining about NFL ticket prices aren’t necessarily wrong, but they really need to put things into perspective a little bit. If the average ticket price is, say, $70, they will pay $700 for a season ticket for that particular seat. Let’s say they buy two and add parking at $25 or so for those ten games. They’re now paying $1,650 for a full season of two tickets and parking privileges. A decent seat at Kauffman Stadium runs about $25 for a season ticket price. Because all 81 games is tough for most people to attend, let’s give our fictional season ticket holder a 41 game package with two seats apiece and parking at $8 a pop. A half season costs $2,378 for two tickets and parking. NFL ticket prices are a product of a short schedule. If that’s what you’re into, you’re not getting ripped off, I promise. Personally, I’m happy to watch on my plasma television where it’s warm, but that’s my choice.

It’s been well documented that the Royals and Chiefs have a hard time being good at the same time, but for the Royals sake, they better buck that trend. Kansas City is a great sports town. I’d argue that we have some of the best fans in the entire country in terms of knowledge and passion. To support two really bad teams as well as this city has is astounding. If and when the Royals start to win, fans will come out. Attendance will rise. I’d wager that the Royals will average about 30,000 per game if they win 90 games, whether or not they win the division. The difference between baseball and football, though, is that turnarounds don’t happen nearly as quickly. Sure the Royals could go 93-69 next season and take the Central, but it’s way less likely than the Chiefs turnaround was for a couple of reasons. One is that the short schedule leads to increased variance. If the season were 32 games, I’d bet the Chargers would run away with the division by four games. Also, young players make an impact much quicker in the NFL as there is less development time. I digress.

The point here is that Kansas City is still a baseball town as well as a football town. If the Chiefs keep winning for a couple more years and the Royals keep losing at ridiculous paces, you might see a portion of the fan base move from the Royals to the Chiefs for their season tickets. Like it or not, the Royals are in indirect competition with the Chiefs for the hearts of their fans and now that the Chiefs have turned things around, the Royals need to do the same pretty quickly in order to keep the interest. The real fans will always be around. Even if the Royals go 61-101 in 2011, I’ll still be writing about them and going to more games than I probably should. And if and when the Royals start winning again, the fans will come back, but it’s important for them to not ever leave. So, the long answer to the question initially posed is yes…for now.

  1. Daniel
    December 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

    No doubt at its heart that this city is a baseball town and I can easily recall from memory that the buzz in this down during past pennant chases dwarfs the excitement you’re seeing today.

    However, that doesn’t mean fans can’t and won’t enjoy two winning franchises. While I’m not as big of a fan of football, I enjoy watching the Chiefs have success and can only continue to hope that their neighbors across the parking lot can join them soon.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: