A Department of Burnt Ends representative bought a ticket for the inaugural cordoning off of the all-you-can-eat seats at the K. Copying the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Royals have set aside a section along the first-base line where fans can make unlimited runs for a limited menu of hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, peanuts and soda. Defibrillators sold separately.
Limited to two items per visit, our man took a hot dog and a cola back to his seat before the game started. The extravaganza got off to a disappointing start. The hot dog was clammy, and the smallish Pepsi cup was crammed with so much ice that it would've been impossible to use it to soak the bun, eating-contest-style.
The people who showed up for the promotion were like any in the stadium: couples with third wheels, fathers and sons complaining about the way players wear their pants these days, young families with babies at the stage of development when their hair looks as though it has been subjected to an electric current, and "superfans" (anyone wearing more than one piece of clothing identifying team allegiance and headphones to listen to the calls on the radio).
What really distinguished this section was the steady banging of jaws. Especially in the early innings, mouths seemed to be moving in unison.
The DBE representative pulled the free visor handed out that night low whenever a camera crew came to document the gluttony. Toby Cook, the former WDAF Fox 4 personality who is now the team's public relations VP, filmed a couple of segments nearby.
"Why is this hot dog uneaten?" Cook asked a man sitting with food in his lap. "Did you run out of gas?"
"I ran out of gas," the man answered dutifully.
Later, Cook led the binge-friendly in a cheer for the camera: "Go, Royals! Man, I'm full!"
Our faithful eater hit full after a third serving of scary-yellow popcorn. Queasiness set in as reserve outfielder Shane Costa, inexplicably inserted into the cleanup spot, came up with two hits, as did five other Royals. Perhaps the smell of all that food worked as motivation.
The gluttony seats were cut off in the bottom of the seventh, with the Royals holding a 4-1 lead. Peanut shells and popcorn tubs littered the concrete under the seats; every cup holder held a piece of stadium detritus.
The seats have a $30 face value, but the team tacks on $5 for the all-you-can-eat and another $6.50 for service charges and whatnot. They're probably the worst in the park on a per-dollar basis. But a soft drink, peanuts, popcorn and nachos run about $20 at the regular concession stands. It isn't a bad deal, provided you can get past hot dogs that taste as if they were saved from the last home stand.
After the section's private concessions area closed, a family returned to its seats with a bag of cotton candy purchased elsewhere in the stadium. All-you-can-eat had not included anything sweet.