Part 1 of 2
Is Arrowhead Dying?
But in the case of a dozen or so Chiefs season-ticket holders, money also doesn’t buy entertainment, or at least the kind they’ve come to expect in return for their years of loyalty to Kansas City’s pro football franchise.
These aren’t the kind of fans who hopped on the bandwagon and lucked into some seats in 2003, when the Chiefs were exciting and inspired hope throughout the Midwest. No, these are time-tested, weary fans like Dave (no last names in this column, but the people are real), a Liberty, Missouri resident who’s held his seats for 23 years.
Dave almost gave up his season tickets after 1988 - likely due to the “lean years” the Chiefs suffered through thanks to former head coaches John Mackovic and Frank Gansz – but decided to “give it one more shot” when Carl Peterson took over as General Manager and brought Marty Schottenheimer on board.
Almost 20 years later, Dave is getting a little frustrated.
A SICK STADIUM
Arrowhead Stadium used to be feared around the NFL. You’ve probably heard the story about how Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith almost jumped out of his skin the first time he heard 80,000 fans yell “CHIEFS” at the end of the national anthem. Only problem is, Smith is now all but retired, and in a way, so is the magic of Arrowhead.
Doug, a season-ticket holder since the mid-90s, remembers what those days were like.
“Dynamic and fun,” says the Lee's Summit resident. “All 80,000 fans united in a common bond of fandom against a visiting team.”
Other fans – all of them longtime season-ticket holders – use words like “tingling,” “deafening,” and “goosebumps” to describe Arrowhead’s glory at the height of its power. You get the sense that these raw-throated fans are as much a part of the Chiefs as the names that circle the field on the Ring of Fame.
“The atmosphere just pulling into the parking lot with thousands of others that really cared about the game, was electric,” says one fan. “Once inside the stadium it was loud and crazy.”
And nowadays? Well, the Chiefs are 2-4 at home this season. That’s the worst home record posted by a Kansas City team since Dick Vermeil’s first season, and before that you have to go all the way back to the 80s to find a Chiefs team that was worse at home. The Chiefs have been desperately trying to sell tickets all season long, are now offering discounted upper-reserve seats to teachers, and the threat of the first blackout in over a decade looms.
Yeah, it’s getting bad out there. Just ask those old battlewagons in the stands. Like Jason, an Emporia, Kansas, resident and Chiefs season-ticket holder for 14 years.
“It’s lost its burst,” he says. “It can get loud, but I think the ****iness went away. Before, I had no doubt we were going to win the game at Arrowhead no matter what year it was. Now, I have no idea what to expect.”
But it’s worse. Some fans (like Mike, a Belton, Missouri resident and a season-ticket holder for two years) have even begun to compare the atmosphere at the “new” Arrowhead to that experienced at Royals games, and wait until you hear what Rob, who drives all the way from San Diego to watch his Chiefs, has to say.
“It’s depressing, dead, and pathetic,” says the 17-year season-ticket holder. “It reminds me of visits to Rams home games I've made. Fans are losing hope.”
Chiefs fans comparing Arrowhead Stadium to the pride of St. Louis?
What is going on?