Kansas City is getting its chance to celebrate Yordano Ventura’s life.
Ventura’s death in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Sunday has turned this weekend’s FanFest at the Kansas City Convention Center into a time for his teammates and Royals fans to mourn and remember the 25-year-old pitcher.
Twenty-one players and manager Ned Yost are expected to take part in FanFest. Before the annual event begins on Friday, the team hold a private “Celebration of Life” ceremony for Ventura at an undisclosed location.
During an interview Thursday with KCSP (610 AM), Yost said he was eager to get to FanFest.
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“It’s been an emotional week, it’s been a hard week,” Yost said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Kansas City and seeing our fans and we can all start this healing process together.”
Fans will have their chance to say good-bye to Ventura at FanFest, both on Friday and Saturday.
On Thursday, the Royals put the finishing touches on a project for FanFest that just a week ago, they couldn’t have possibly fathomed would be needed. A pitcher’s mound was built with Ventura’s number 30 on it at Bartle Hall.
The mound will be in an area where the Royals also will have a have a framed Ventura game-worn jersey and video boards showing Ventura highlights. Additionally, there will be a signature wall for fans to remember Ventura.
“There is going to be a place where people can write their thoughts either to him or the family,” said Toby Cook, the Royals’ vice president of publicity.
Cook said that the Royals will also have tributes at the first game at spring training in Surprise, Ariz., and at the home opener on April 10.
The Royals will also wear patches on the right sleeves of their game jerseys to honor Ventura this season. The black patches are rectangular with white letters reading “ACE 30.”
Ventura was laid to rest Tuesday in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, and some Royals players and team officials were on hand. Fewer than three weeks after FanFest, the Royals will start spring training, so the timing was right to remember Ventura in Kansas City.
Both days of FanFest will start with a moment of silence to honor Ventura and there will be tributes on the main stage.
FanFest opens at noon Friday for season-ticket holders only. At 2 p.m., it will be open to all fans and will run until 9 p.m. On Saturday, the exclusive access for season-ticket holders is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and will be open to all fans from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The cost for a one-day pass is $17 for adults and $11 for children ages 6-17. A two-day pass is $23 for adults and $15 for children ages 6-17. Children 5 and under will be admitted for free.
Tickets are available at royals.com/FanFest, by calling 816-504-4040 or at the Kauffman Stadium box office (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Tickets will be available at the Convention Center, and there again will be timed entry for the tickets.
The Royals stressed that tickets are for specific entry times and each slot is limited. The team encouraged fans to buy tickets early to secure the date and time of their choice. Fans will not be able to enter FanFest until their slotted time but once inside are allowed to stay as long as they wish.