KANSAS CITY -- You don't have to don a top hat and tails -- a ballcap and Royals shirt will do -- but be advised that the Royals are taking the party downtown this year.
For the first time, the Royals FanFest will be in downtown Kansas City, Mo., specifically at the Kansas City Convention Center's Bartle Hall.
That's a switch from the Overland Park Convention Center on the Kansas side of the metropolitan area.
"We started Royals FanFest in January 2008, and the Overland Park Convention Center was our first and only venue for the five FanFests we've held," said Toby Cook, Royals vice president of community affairs and publicity. "We loved the facility but finally busted the seams of the place in 2013 with an enormous response from Royals fans. We're expecting an even bigger turnout this year, and the Kansas City Convention Center is huge. Bartle Hall hosts big-time shows throughout the year, and there will be plenty of room for fans to maneuver between autograph stations and attractions. Beyond that, we felt like it was just time to take this show downtown."
After skipping the FanFest during the All-Star Game year of 2012 and trying a one-day format in 2013, this year's event will cover two days -- Friday and Saturday at, don't forget, Bartle Hall.
Downtown parking will be a consideration, of course, and Cook points out there are many parking options close to the KC Convention Center. The cost of parking varies according to location and operators reserve the right to change rates for specific events.
For specific directions, the Royals have made available a parking map button on the web site FAQ.
The biggest draw for the FanFest, of course, is the opportunity for fans to feast their eyes on many of the Royals' current players. At last count, nearly 25 players on the 2014 roster were planning to attend. For an up-to-date list this week, click here.
At various times, autograph stages will be set up around the convention center.
In a special event at 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at the main stage, the Royals Player of the Year, Eric Hosmer, and Pitcher of the Year, Greg Holland, will be in the spotlight. The Special Achievement Award winner, James Shields, will be recognized in absentia. Shields is scheduled to be at FanFest on Friday but has to be in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday night to be honored by the Ted Williams Museum.
Many Royals alumni are also scheduled to participate, along with general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost.
There will be interactive games for all ages, from pitching to hitting to stealing bases.
The new Royals Authentics store at Kauffman Stadium will be combined with the Royals Majestic Team Store to sell merchandise at the event.
The hours for all fans on Friday will be from 2 to 9 p.m. CT, and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is also exclusive access both days for season-ticket holders, from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Ticket prices for one day are: Adult advance, $13; adult day of sale, $15; youth advance, $7; youth day of sale, $9. Prices for two days are: Adult advance, $19; adult day of sale, $23; youth advance, $10; youth day of sale, $13. (Youth prices are for children 6-17. Children 5 and under will be admitted free.)
Fans can obtain FanFest tickets at royals.com/fanfest, by calling 816-504-4040 or by visiting the Kauffman Stadium Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Thursday. Then sales shift to the Convention Center.
Select proceeds from the FanFest are used to support Royals Charities which will hold silent auctions of memorabilia in conjunction with the MLB Players Alumni Association. In addition, a FanFest version of the 50/50 Raffle will be held to benefit Royals Charities.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.