Saturday, March 20, 2010

Big 12 Tournament Trip, Day 5

4th and final day of games. In this case, one game, just the championship. As a result, lots of time to spend away from the Sprint Center.

First on tap was a 9:30 AM tour of Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. This whole setup was really cool. Pun City will rewind a little to illuminate you. When this blog decided on Kansas City for the tournament trip, it looked into possibly touring either Kauffman Stadium or Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Kansas City Chiefs). Arrowhead doesn't have tours, plus it looked like they were renovating this offseason, so no dice there. Kauffman does offer tours, but they didn't begin until March 15th this season, with the exception of group tours, which could be scheduled by appointment in the offseason.

Pun City had called the Royals to see if they had any group tours scheduled on the Friday or Saturday of this week, and to see if they'd allow Pun City to tag along with a group. The Royals employee that answered they had an 11:00 group tour scheduled, but they would be able to have Pun City tour at 9:30 (as they'd have a guide in the building anyway, with the 11:00 coming up). This was very cool. They did not have to accomodate this blog at all, but they not only did so, but went above and beyond by giving what amounted to a private tour. Very awesome, Royals.

The tour guide, whose name escapes Pun City (embarrassingly), was outstanding. She was also the Royals Hall of Fame curator, so she was very knowledgable on a lot of the Royals' history, in addition to much on how exhibits were constructed. All of Kansas City baseball was spotlighted in the stadium, which included turn-of-the-century teams, the Royals, Kansas City Athletics, Negro League teams, and even some Federal League teams. Very cool stuff. A major bonus of the private tour was being able to ask whatever questions this blog wanted, and getting them answered right away. This was a very good tour, even if it had not been private, and it was a really awesome part of the trip. This blog highly recommends either a Royals game or a Royals tour if you ever get the opportunity. Top-notch organization as far as fan-friendliness goes.

After the tour, Pun City headed over to Arthur Bryant's to get some ribs. The place is great, it's all about the food. A giant pile of rib tips, bread, and french fries covered this blog's plate, and was extremely tasty. This was the first place Pun City had visited that emphasized the "rub" on the ribs, and it was a good result. Certainly a little different than this blog was used to in the rib department, but great stuff.

Next up was a stop at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. That was good, maybe not as great as this blog had hoped though. It seemed like this museum was primarily focused on communicating the story of the Negro Leagues in the form of written word on the wall, as opposed to a large amount of memorabilia. As Pun City knows a good deal of the written story already, the comparatively smaller amount of memorabilia was a little bit disappointing. That said, in hindsight, memorabilia from that era is hard to find, much less in good repair. It's entirely possible that the museum has most of the surviving memorabilia from the Negro Leagues, but there isn't very much that survives to this day. This blog would suggest going to the museum once, but this blog will probably not partake again. Of note, the caretaker of the souvenir shop was very nice and there are some very affordable deals to be had there. If you do go to the NLBM, make sure to go to the souvenir stand.

Two more stops happened between the NLBM and the Big 12 Final. One was to UMKC to check out their bookstore. It's a good bookstore for a school of their size, and Pun City got a hat there. Go Roos! Their bookstore was in their University Square, which housed (among other things) their cafeteria. They had a newsstand set up with free papers for students, including USA Today. Pun City really likes these stands, as it generally means free paper for Pun City. This one was a stand that required a student ID though, so that unfortunately excluded this blog from the proceedings. Kind of a bummer.

The final stop was at Crown Center, a mall at the Hallmark / Crayola headquarters. In this blog's opinion, this is a terrible mall. The food court was underwhelming, the entire place was definitely geared toward kids, and the two sports-related shops were extreme rip-offs that must either be surviving by having little to no rent or a very large amount of uninformed customers. Pun City has seen similar sports shops in the past, but this blog is always offended when it comes across a sports shop selling items well above their actual worth, preying on dumb customers.

It took about 15 minutes to determine that this mall was not the place for Pun City to be, so this blog moved on. On to the Big 12 Zone for picking up some final free stuff and then going in to the game. The Census stand wasn't there anymore, so this blog could no longer load up on their cool freebies like piggy banks and pens. This was probably alright, since this blog had done that a couple days in a row. Chick-Fil-A, in addition to having their normal shooting contests for either mini balls or Pez dispensers featuring their cow mascot, had a really timely giveaway on this day. Not only were they giving out coupons for free chicken sandwiches, but they were also giving away free chicken sandwiches. This, combined with Sunkist's ongoing free soda giveaway provided Pun City with a nice dinner - for free. Not too much to gather besides the free food and soda though, DirecTV was wrapping up their stand since they were about to distribute their grand prize (a TV and tickets to the final). Phillips 66 did have free keychains though, that worked out well. They had a flashlight on the chain, plus some extra batteries. A decent giveaway.

After the free food, it was time to enter the arena, and this blog went around the College Basketball Experience to get to the secondary entrance to the Sprint Center, which was significantly faster than trying the normal entrance. Kansas was playing Kansas State, which was probably a scalper's dream matchup. This blog was thankful that it had purchased tickets as early as it did, seeing as there were most likely prices around $150.00 for just the final at this point. About 75% of the stadium was filled with KU fans. This was a great effort by KSU fans to even get 25% of the stadium in their colors, since KU has one of the more rabid fan bases in the country.

Kansas rolled, putting the game out of reach at the 7:59 mark. Of note:

Kansas's band played "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Tequila," "Sing, Sing, Sing" (The Chips Ahoy 1,000 Chips Delicious song), "Crazy In Love," and "Shake That Thing".

KSU's band played "Smoke On The Water," "Sell Out," "Separate Ways," "Purple Haze," "So Glad You Made It," "Crazy Train," and "Rock and Roll Part II."

Very good trip. The next post will discuss the return home with stops at the University of Iowa and Northern Illinois University.

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