The Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium is in a suburban sports complex that is perfectly modernist, which is to say, perfectly designed to quash riots.
On game day, the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex could be described as the innermost suburb clinging to the outermost periphery of Kansas City, Missouri. Containing Kauffman Stadium and its neighbor, Arrowhead Stadium, the Complex exists in an eastern industrial buffer zone between the Kansas City metro and the suburb of Independence. But Kansas City sports used to have a decidedly less suburban home. From 1955 to 1971, Municipal Stadium, warmly situated in the birthplace of jazz, shoehorned fans of the Athletics (who decamped for Oakland in 1967), the Chiefs and the Royals into its wooden grandstands until Arrowhead and The K were christened.
For much longer, Municipal Stadium had been home to the Negro American League’s winningest team, the Kansas City Monarchs. They were so popular in the 1930-50s that church congregants would leave services to attend a Monarchs game, up to the point that many of the Black community churches altered sermon times to facilitate reverence to both God and game. Spectators would walk to the stadium dressed in their Sunday bests ready to baptize themselves each week in the hot summer sun. Bright metro buses parked along the first base line outside the stadium, shuttling people to and from games.
Kansas City Municipal Stadium is an old testament to what made baseball the national pastime. The fans felt a neighborly connection to the team, and with that came a sense of communal ownership of the stadium (rather than seeing it as an outside agitator encroaching on a space where it wasn’t invited).