Get Balls And Autographs at NBT Bank Stadium

The Get Balls And Autographs at NBT Bank Stadium
by Malcolm MacMillan
  • Second deck is prime foul ball-snagging territory
  • One Chiefs player signs in team shop before weekend games
A visit to NBT Bank Stadium gives you a good chance of catching your first foul ball. Find an open spot in the upper deck and wait patiently; balls frequently land here.

NBT Bank Stadium’s design is such that fans can’t get behind the outfield fence to snag balls during batting practice. The inability to do so severely hampers your chance at getting a ball prior to a Chiefs game, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be shut out.

Try to be at the front of the line outside the main gate before it opens. The gates open one hour before first pitch, and even though batting practice is over by this point, rush into the ballpark as quickly as you can. Head down either the first base line or the third base line to scour the rows of seats for BP foul balls. If you see fans or ushers already in one area, find an empty section. The ushers gather foul balls before the gates are opened, but it’s still possible to find one. Pay special attention to underneath the seats and also in the gap where each seat folds.

During the game, find a relatively empty section to try for a foul ball. The fewer fans in the section, the less competition you’ll have. The attendance is light early in the season because of the cold weather, so you’ll have a better chance in April and May. Always sit at the end of a row so you can spring into action and run if need be. Plenty of foul balls find the upper decks during each game. Again, find a sparsely populated section – it’s better if you’re closer to home than way down the lines – and be alert.

If you’d rather be close to the action, try Section 119 down the first base line. Located directly behind the visitors’ bullpen, this section juts out slightly, meaning you might be able to pick up a grounder that has rolled foul. Of course, you’ll have to contend with relief pitchers in the area, but wear the right team’s gear, and they might let a ball roll through them.

The Chiefs’ dugout and bullpen are along the third base line, while the visiting team sets up behind first base. Upon entry to Alliance Bank Stadium, decide which team you’re pursuing for autographs and secure a spot in the front row adjacent to that team’s dugout. If the players aren’t out yet, they will be soon. Not everyone will always sign, but each game, several players make their way to the fence for autographs.

One of the benefits of autograph collecting at AAA facilities is that it’s common to see players whose names you recognize. Big leaguers on rehab stints will occasionally sign, but some guys will choose to stay hidden in the dugout – it all depends on the player and the day. Depending on the opponent in town, it’s common for the autograph-seeking crowd around the visitors’ dugout to be larger than the home side.

On weekend games, a member of the Chiefs will sign at the Whistlestop Souvenirs team shop shortly before first pitch. Listen for announcements as to who the guy will be and get in line early to ensure you’ll get a chance to meet the player. Weekend games typically begin at 2 p.m. and the signing session lasts from 1:15 to 1:30 p.m.

During my visit in April 2013, I hung out on the empty party deck area right at the home plate side of the upper deck on the third base side. I figured that if I stood here, it wouldn’t be long before a ball came my way. It took a few innings, but sure enough, I grabbed a foul here. I visited during a doubleheader, and after wandering the stadium for the early part of the second game, I returned to this upper-deck spot just in time to snag my second foul ball of the day.