OLATHE, Kan. — Reactions from the community are varied following the announcement the Kansas City Royalswill leave Kauffman Stadium and start looking for an alternative location.
The team’s principal owner, John Sherman, announced plans for a $2 billion stadium and entertainment district downtown.
Al Fitzmorris is one of the original Royals, debuting with the franchise in 1969. He was also on the roster in 1973, the first season the Royals played at what is now called Kauffman Stadium.
Fitzmorris pitched on the team for eight years, mostly as a starter. He is tied to “The K” after creating countless memories there with his teammates and his family.
“It was so fun going out and competing, day in and day out, with your best friends around you," Fitzmorris said. "And I think more than anything, it was a feeling of, truly the feeling of, family. The people of Kansas City just made us feel at home.”
Fitzmorris believes the Royals have provided hope, community, and, in times of trouble, stability for the people of Kansas City. Those are among the reasons why he is hesitant about the move.
He also said the Kauffman Stadium services both the east and west counties right now, and taking it downtown would make commutes less convenient.
“Even in the World Series, you can get in and out in 15 minutes," Fitzmorris said. "I can’t see downtown being quite as convenient. I personally don’t see anything wrong with the ballpark.”
Meanwhile, lifelong Royals fan Jimmy Faseler, thinks the benefits could outweigh the loss.
“Right now, if you go to a baseball stadium, you’re giving all of your money that night to one owner,” said Faseler. “If it’s downtown, other small business have opportunities to be a part of the economy of a successful franchise.”
Historically, the stadium has followed the migration of the people as well. He says it makes sense now the stadium is potentially heading downtown.
Regardless of where the Royals play, both Faseler and Fitzmorris believe with a winning team, the tradition and history can be built again.
“You’re gonna need a good team to start new tradition. I think that if they win and continually win, it’s not gonna be an issue. But the key is to continually win,” said Faseler.