Kansas City Connection: Sporting KC kicks off season with better eats

It’s hard to imagine Sporting Kansas City having a much better season than it did in 2013. Winners of the MLS Cup, and a close second in the race for the Supporter’s Shield (awarded to the Major League Soccer club with the most points in regular season play), 2013 was one for the books.

Adding to the team’s success is an outstanding fan experience, including free Wi-Fi at the stadium, attractive apparel and merchandise, excellent social media coverage and player involvement in charitable causes.

There was, however, one area of the Sporting experience that I’d heard more than one fan grumble about: the food.

This year, even that’s been improved, with new menu items including European-style meat pies, grilled cheese and bacon, barbecue baked potatoes, tacos and habanero hominy. There’s also a new blue curacao-based Blue Hell Lemonade cocktail that looks like something you might be more likely to see while on spring break at South Padre Island. Draft beers are still a princely $8.75, but Sporting games were never about getting drunk (at least in my opinion), and the vibe at Sporting Park tends to be more family friendly than a more intense, boozy NFL game, for example.

With the team active in both the MLS season and the CONCACAF Champions League, Sporting faces a busy month ahead.

The team carries a 1-0 lead into a home-and-away Champions League series against Mexican powerhouse Cruz Azul, with the second leg taking part at 9 p.m. Wednesday in Mexico City.

The next home match for Sporting will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes. For a full schedule and ticket information, visit sportingkc.com.

12 Baltimore

Now that Big 12 tournament action has wrapped up, visitors to downtown Kansas City might feel like venturing beyond the sports bars and food trucks for their next meal.

One downtown eatery that often gets overlooked is 12 Baltimore, connected to the Hotel Phillips at the corner of 12th and Baltimore streets.

For prices comparable to those at Free State Brewery, 12 Baltimore offers high-quality food in a classy yet relaxed setting.

The burgers and salads are especially good, and a row of Boulevard taps makes it just as good a place to pre-game for an event as anywhere else in the neighborhood.

12 Baltimore offers a special Stimulus Lunch ($8.95 for one of a dozen menu items, including a beverage) each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon, and happy hour specials run each day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. A brunch buffet is available on weekends from 8 a.m. until noon for $14, and the restaurant features drink specials and live jazz from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays.

‘La bohème’

As a college freshman, I bought a reproduction of the original 1926 poster for Puccini’s “Turandot” at the Kansas Union poster sale, thereby dazzling friends and visitors with my cultural awareness. This week, I will take another huge step forward by actually seeing my first Puccini opera, “La bohème,” presented by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

You won’t have to be an opera buff to appreciate the love story and soaring arias of this performance, which stars soprano Katie Van Kooten as Mimi and Italian tenor Giorgio Berrugi as Rodolfo. “La bohème” will be performed this week at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $55 and up and are available at kcopera.org.


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