Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus By: Jake White @JakWhite
As long as many of us have been Kansas City Chiefs, we have watched games at Arrowhead Stadium. The smell of BBQ, the assortment of flags flying, the random breakout of tomahawk chop, looking at empty Kauffman Stadium right next door. Going to Arrowhead has been in my blood since I was born.
Growing up in Independence, Missouri it was not out of the ordinary to get up on a Sunday morning as a kid. Help my family pack cooler after cooler with various beverages and slabs of ribs and pounds of sausage. Help my dad struggle to get a grill in the truck. Or in later years, just throw the Lil’ Smokey and a bag of charcoal in the back.
We would get to the Gate at an impossibly early time just to wait in line with the rest of the die-hards to file into Gate 2 to find the perfect spot.
Insider secret, there is no one perfect spot, because they are all perfect. I remember playing catch in the grass with my brother or cousins or cornhole in the Gold Parking Lot. Walking into Arrowhead is unlike anything else. The smell from the parking lot, the noises from the stadium. KC Wolf doing his antics on the field. The food that we all think is overpriced until our vacation to LA and we try to finance a hot dog at SoFi Stadium. But then the crown jewel. The inside, the faded red and yellow seats, the higher up you go the more faded they are from sun, snow, wind, and being slapped as hard as you while the opposing team is facing 3rd down anywhere on the field.
The discussion of Arrowhead being moved to Kansas City, Kansas has been like a knife to the heart. Not only because of the memories or the fact that Arrowhead is consistently ranked a top stadium in the NFL, but because I’ve visited other stadiums, I’ve watched how other fans experience their team.
Arrowhead is unique.
The first thing is tailgating. Not that I think tailgating would go by the wayside, but it might change depending on how they build around Arrowhead. Other stadiums have several shopping opportunities, restaurants, bars, and a whole city experience surrounding the centerpiece of the Stadium. Right now Arrowhead has Taco Bell and Denny’s surrounding the stadium. But who cares? It’s the tailgating that makes people buy a parking pass with no intention of going into the stadium. If you didn’t bring anything to BBQ, thousands of fans are willing to share. It’s that Midwestern hospitality for you. You’ll never go hungry at a Kansas City game. So the need to bring other business around the stadium doesn’t make any sense to me. Whos going to Chipotle before a game?
My second concern is about the venue itself. I love the curly ramps. Walking out of the stadium from the nosebleeds chanting and cheering while walking in a circle is a treasure of the stadium. Maybe it’s just me, but I always loved that tradition. When they installed the plastic signs on the inside and people would pound on them as we all walked to our cars. The seats will be new so maybe less noisy. But the stadium will have some sort of covering, that will be sure. I’m not opposed to a roof as long as we can still watch the flyovers and enjoy the fireworks (until they run out again)
But my biggest fear is the atmosphere. In other stadiums, they’ve added more things to do while at the game. Video game booths, bars, and VR systems are just more things to do and less has to do with the game. I’m not a stickler for “You have to watch the game!”. But I love that Kansas City fans are wired that way. The way the stadium ignites when a sack, touchdown, or anything good happens is embedded in my brain. With more distractions, will that cause a disconnect in the fandom? I highly doubt it.
I have a solution that I think Mr. Hunt, Mr. Sherman, and of course Patrick Mahomes can get behind. Move Kaufman Stadium downtown. It sounds crazy and I wasn’t a fan at first.
But with 162 games a year, 81 in Kaufman a downtown stadium makes games more accessible. Going to a Chiefs game is an event, it’s something you plan your weekend around. Going to a Royals game at 3 pm on a Tuesday shouldn’t be an inconvenience, but just an opportunity while downtown. When they move downtown Clark Hunt can make the Truman Sports Complex his very own Chiefs Mecca. Make the stadium as big and glorious as he can imagine. Make the stadium a visual staple and must-see from I-70. Incorporate Arrowhead now, and keep what we have built there in the DNA of any new stadium.
Arrowhead Stadium is a cornerstone of most Kansas Citians’ lives. Keeping it at Truman Sports Complex, we can make the improvements to update the stadium or build new while also not alienating the fanbase and moving the stadium across stateliness where many of us have already died on the hill that Kansas City is in Missouri.