Lawn seats are a taste of summer for Royals fans in Arizona

Royals fans take in a game from the lawn seats at Surprise Stadium.
Royals fans take in a game from the lawn seats at Surprise Stadium. Cronkite News

The Royals might be based out of Surprise Stadium only in the spring, but the team’s Cactus League location is starting to feel a lot like home for fans of the World Series champions.

Well, a sunnier, warmer, more relaxed version of home — complete with a lush lawn.

While Arizona’s weather might be best known for its 110-degree summer days, the mid-80s highs of March are a perfect temperature for fans taking in a full morning of practice followed by an afternoon ballgame.

For many, a spring training game means a few things: a chance to chase autographs, tip a cold beverage and stretch out on lawn seats.

For others, it’s just about filling the void left by the months without big-league baseball following the World Series.

“Got to watch our boys play, and I’m getting to watch baseball before everyone else is,” said Royals fan Dave Lingrel.

Lingrel made the journey from Kansas to Arizona to catch the early action. He said he’s here for baseball but, seated out on the lawn, he can also appreciate the relaxed spring training atmosphere.

“The breeze is nice, the beer is cold,” Lingrel said. “It’s great out here.”

The lawn environment isn’t just great for baseball diehards — it’s a great way for the whole family to take in a game. Kimberly McCombs also traveled from Kansas to watch spring training, but she lined up her trip with her son Noah’s spring break. They were impressed by the atmosphere at Surprise Stadium, she said.

“It’s amazing,” McCombs said. “It’s just so family friendly and we’re having a great time.”

For McCombs, lawn seating isn’t just about spring training traditions — it’s about the lawn itself. Noah is a dedicated Royals fan, but, like most kids, he can better appreciate a long baseball game when he has some space to play.

“This is the place to be,” McCombs said. “The kids can get up and run around and it’s a little bit more relaxed than if you’re in a seat. You can get away and get into the shade — because it is a little hot.”

McCombs definitely isn’t alone as a parent looking for a little extra room. Lawn seating also gives a different experience for fans who make it to a number of games at Kauffman Stadium during the regular season.

“You can spread out and just chill and relax,” said Marta Granberry, who was attending a game with her daughter Emma. “It’s a lot different than sitting up in the stands like we do when we go to the K.”

Still, for these fans there is one thing in common with games in Kansas City: it’s all about the Royals. The opportunity to get autographs and talk to their favorite players at spring training is appealing to fans of all ages.

With baseball returning for the year, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement.

Lingrel was ready to predict a third straight World Series appearance after seeing a week of batting practice, while Noah is just trying to figure out how to pick a favorite.

“(Alex Gordon is) one of my favorite players,” Noah said. “But I’ve got a lot of favorite players on the Royals because they’re all fun to watch.”

Jayson Chesler is a senior at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.