KC looks forward to 'new' digs in '09

KC looks forward to 'new' digs in '09

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals aren't moving into a new house like the Yankees, but people in Kansas City sure are excited about their Kauffman Stadium fixer-upper.

Sunday's White Sox-Royals game marked the last contest at "The K" while the stadium is in a heavy construction phase. When the Royals next play at Kauffman in April, almost all of the renovation project will have been completed.

There will be the look and feel of a new stadium for the 2009 home opener, and the Royals hope to feed off the energy that will no doubt be flowing through the stands.

"There's going to be a lot of excitement with the stadium and we want to make sure we create a lot of excitement about the team, too," outfielder David DeJesus said. "Both the stadium and the team have sort of been a work in progress this year. Hopefully, it all comes together on both ends. I know the stadium is going to be even more beautiful than it is now, and the team is going to be prepared to do its part so the fans have a great experience all the way around."

Even though construction was going on when he first saw Kauffman Stadium last fall, manager Trey Hillman developed an instant affinity for the place.

"It looked like a war zone outside and there was snow covering the field," Hillman recalled. "But my heart was racing."

Hillman told those he was walking with to go ahead on a bitterly cold day. Hillman stayed behind to survey the ballpark scene.

"As corny as this might sound, I wanted a moment," Hillman said. "It's a cool stadium. There's a lot of history here."

Hillman thinks the refurbished stadium in 2009 will only enhance the energy of the ballclub.

"Our players are talking about it and the opposing players are talking about it," Hillman said. "[White Sox catcher] Paul Phillips comes over and said, 'Holy cow, is this place going to be different.' In their mind's eye, the players can see what they think it's going to look like. A lot of the great features of this stadium will stay, but overall it's going to be bigger and better."

Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.