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Royals Opening Day To Bring Rings, A New Flag And Some Baseball

It’s a new baseball season, but memories linger from last year when the Kansas City Royals played in the World Series for the first time in 29 years. Monday’s Opening Day pre-game activities will commemorate that.

Opening Day also gives fans a chance to check out a new look inside Kauffman Stadium. Construction workers frantically gutted and restored the old stadium club area, known the last few years as the .390 restaurant. Gone are the large windows, the carpet, the tiles and the more formal settings open only to members. It’s replaced by an open air food and beverage destination called “Craft and Draft” and open to all ticket holders.

“Over the years, the membership has diminished every year,” said Bob Rice, Royals vice president of ballpark operations and development. “So, really, that was a message to us that we really needed to do something different with the space.”

This season, Rice expects the Craft and Draft area to be busier.

“We think that we can probably double the traffic that goes through that space,” said Rice. “Really, just from the standpoint that we’ll have a lot of drink rails. We’ll have a lot of standing room. It’s going to be an interesting space.”

Away from the stadium in a more subdued setting, a seamstress for All Nations Flags in the River Quay area sews the 2014 American League championship flag that will be raised at Kauffman Stadium on Monday. It will wave with the other championship flags outside the Royals Hall of Fame.

Greg Wald, the owner of All Nations Flags who calls himself a sports geek, said the whole process of sewing the flag only takes a few weeks in today’s technology.

As the pre- game ceremonies approach, Wald said he’s pumped up about having a role in it.

“That was just an amazing run of baseball in October. It energized the city. The city’s energized in waiting for this season,” said Wald. “What we’re making is not really like a trophy, but it is like a trophy. It’s a fabric trophy. It’s going to hang on the Hall of Fame out there, and it’s really exciting. It’s fun.”

Back in late February when the Kansas City Royals full squad reported to spring training in Arizona, one of the first orders of business was measuring their ring fingers for the sparkling, multi-diamond rings to be presented Monday in honor of winning the American League pennant. Jennifer Duerre, a marketing manager for Jostens, the ring manufacturer, was sworn to Secrecy about the ring’s details until Monday’s presentation.

“It’s kept certainly very, very, very tightly under wraps,” said Duerre. “We want to make sure it’s a great moment for players and staff, and that everyone feels a sense of excitement that they’re getting the ring together.”

In general terms, Duerre said the rings will represent their season. But when asked how? Duerre said, “Hmmm, I’m trying to think how I do this, but I think it pays homage to who they really are as a club. I think when everyone sees it, I think everyone will be happy and it will stand for, not only the club, but the city when they’re done.”

After the ring presentation, Duerre said fans will have an opportunity to see them in more detail.

“I believe the team will do some items and we’ll also have the images up on the Royals Website,” said Duerre. “There will actually be an entire collection for fans to be able to purchase from. Different items that are inspired from the championship ring as well as commemorate the American League championship.”

Duerre wouldn’t disclose what the rings will be worth, but in her words, “they’re priceless.”

What it all boils down to is whether or not the team on the field is entertaining. But based on how last year ended up, plus the off-season player pick-ups, the Royals figure to be a fun team to watch again in 2015. Maybe even priceless.

The first pitch in the opener against the Chicago White Sox is Monday afternoon at 3:10 p.m.

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