Four days after the Kansas City Royals, with Cy Young Award contender Zack Grienke on the mound, won their 2009 home finale, the place they call home -- Kauffman Stadium -- received one of the KC area's most prestigious architectural awards.
During a special ceremony Thursday, October 2, Kauffman Stadium was presented one of the three 2009 Community Treasure Awards. The Community Christian Church began sponsoring the awards in 2007 to raise funds to preserve their Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church, while also recognizing other architectural treasures in the Kansas City region. The other two Community Treasures for 2009 are the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the Andrews McMeel Universal Headquarters/Boley Building.
Making 'The K' New Again
When it first opened as Royals Stadium the early 1970s, the stadium was instantly hailed as one of the best parks in the Major Leagues. Kauffman Stadium was "made new again" through renovations that were conducted over a two-year period, but were actually completed a year ahead of schedule. (CLICK HERE for more information about Kauffman Stadium's renovations.)
Though unable to attend the October 2 ceremony, County Executive Mike Sanders wanted to thank -- on behalf of Kauffman Stadium’s owners, the people of Jackson County -- the Community Christian Church for sponsoring the awards. He noted "The New K" is in select company with previous Community Treasure winners, including The President Hotel, Nelson-Atkins Bloch Building and H&R Block World Headquarters.
Several different structures were evaluated for the 2009 Community Treasure award. John Gaunt, dean of the University of Kansas City School of Architecture and Urban Planning, eventually selected the final honorees.
He said he based the award winners on their “significance in the context of the architectural revitalization that continues to transform Kansas City. Each plays a role in improving the quality of the architecture of Greater Kansas City and of enhancing the quality of life for its citizens. They are public-spirited, beautiful, functional and responsible works of architecture.”
Updating For The Future While Honoring The Past
Kauffman Stadium—now with its wider concourses, new and bigger “Little K,” Royals Hall of Fame, and unique Fountain Pavilion seating—can rival any stadium in America. As one fan, who toured all the ball parks across the nation this summer, posted on a blog, “It still has the feel of when George Brett used to park balls into the water fountains, but now with the new amenities required to keep current in this day and age. I give the new Kauffman an A+.”
Sanders expressed his belief that Jackson County voters chose wisely to renovate "The K" -- to maintain the stadium's rich history while also giving it a modern facelift. He noted that Royals founder Ewing Kauffman and Kansas City baseball legend Buck O'Neil were "likely watching from above" and would have approved of "The New K."
"Kauffman Stadium is the ball park Ewing Kauffman made possible, the house that George Brett helped make famous, the place where Buck O’Neil always loved to take in a game," said Sanders. "The renovations were done with reverence for 'The K’s' glorious past and to assure that fans will be enjoying this 'Community Treasure' well into the future."