Northwest Arkansas Naturals to host Kansas City Royals in exhibition game at Arvest Ballpark

Northwest Arkansas Naturals Logo
Northwest Arkansas Naturals Logo

SPRINGDALE -- The Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Class AA minor-league affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, announced Friday they will play an exhibition against their parent club March 25 at Arvest Ballpark.

Naturals General Manager Justin Cole said he couldn't be more excited for the upcoming season with new logo and uniforms and now with the Royals coming to town.

"This offseason has been exciting in a lot of ways," Cole said. "You always get excited for the next season, but we announced our new logo, our new uniforms, new brand kind of a month ago and then to announce an exhibition game. I don't know that you can have two bigger things you can announce in an offseason. It was really neat to have that conversation with Kansas City and know that we had an opportunity to bring this back to this community this year."

It's the first time the Naturals will host their parent club.

The Royals had previously scheduled an exhibition game at Springdale in 2021, but it was cancelled because of the covid-19 pandemic.

"When the minor league season got pushed back, it just wasn't going to be feasible with any sort of the timing," Cole said. "It was a combination of covid, but also the timing wasn't going to make sense for any of the minor league players. All of those factors just weren't lining up back then."

The bond between Northwest Arkansas and Royals has been always been strong, Cole said.

"It's such a good partnership," Cole said. "I've been fortunate enough to be involved with the organization every year in Northwest Arkansas and four years in Wichita ... just the strength of that bond and our relationship with Kansas City. They had mentioned if we get an opportunity, we want to try to bring it back. ... They kept an open line for us. This year I wasn't fully expecting it, but we had some conversations last summer and I got a call right after the new year that it was a possibility. We were absolutely willing and wanting to have this game come back."

The Naturals have been a minor league affiliate of the Royals since relocating to Northwest Arkansas from Wichita in 2008. Prior to relocating, the Wichita Wranglers served as the Royals' Class AA affiliate from 1995-2007. During their partnership with Kansas City, Northwest Arkansas has made the playoffs eight times, including winning the Texas League in 2010 and claiming the Class AA Central in 2021.

Since the 2008 season, 101 former Naturals have gone on to make their major league debuts with the Royals.

Tickets for the exhibition game will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at Seating will be assigned and ticket prices will range from $16 to $25. Group tickets, suite rentals and party areas will also be available for the event.

The Royals are scheduled to open the regular season on March 28 against the Minnesota Twins on March 28. The Naturals open their regular season April 5 against Tulsa at Arvest Ballpark.

photo Former Northwest Arkansas Naturals third baseman Bobby Witt Jr. (7) of Naturals catches line drive against Tulsa on June 1, 2021. Witt is now the starting third baseman for the Kansas City Royals, who announced they will play an exhibition game against the Naturals on March 25 at Arvest Ballpark. (Special to NWA Democrat-Gazette/ David Beach)

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