Most any NFL fan knows that the home of the Chiefs is Arrowhead stadium. The beautiful stadium made its debut at the start of the 1972 season and has seen its fair share of epic wins and crushing defeats. Considered the loudest stadium in the NFL, Arrowhead has given the Chiefs a very strong home-field advantage. So good, that since 1990 to now, the Chiefs post the 7th best record at home (106-54) in the regular season.
Since 2006 though, the Chiefs have really began to see the losses stack up, and the attendance go down. In 2006, the Chiefs total home attendance for the regular season (8 games) was 623,272. That was an average of around 77,000 which is right about Arrowhead’s capacity. Since then those numbers have dropped significantly including the 2010 season.
At the start of the 2010 season, the Chiefs were coming off just six wins in two years, but were able to come together and win a division title, including a record of 7-1 at home. However, the attendance that season was only totaled at 541,376 through 8 home games. That’s an average of around 67,672 fans per game, about 10,000 under Arrowhead’s capacity. Last, but not least, was last season, the worst season in franchise history. Sadly enough, it had a higher attendance average than the 2010 winning season, but only by about 8,000.
There have been a lot of different factors as to why the Chiefs attendance numbers have declined. From pitiful seasons to disastrous front office choices, somewhere along the line, Arrowhead has almost lost all its magic. A big part of it can be charged to the upgrades of home entertainment. Fantasy Football is at an all time high and fans want stats, and every game at their fingertips.
Between Sunday packages and NFL Redzone, why would a fan want to leave the comfort of their couch? High-definition broadcasts, cheap beer and food, no lines at the restrooms, and no dealing with the outdoor conditions, all figure in to declining attendance. Not to even mention the cost of tickets and parking. The new age has killed a lot of attendance numbers in stadiums across the NFL.
Most teams have recognized these issues and have looked into ways in which they can enhance the stadium experience. While I’m an avid fantasy football player myself, and also enjoy all the comforts from home, I say what the hell happened?
Remember when it was nearly impossible to attend a game on Sunday in Kansas City? Remember when the fans used to look forward to the harsh conditions that our winters would bring to our opponents? Remember when we were there to cheer for the Chiefs and not be focused on anything else outside of that stadium? That’s what our city needs to bring back.
Arrowhead needs to get back to the way it was before all the disastrous seasons and at-home luxuries. At one point, the Chiefs had a consecutive sellout record of 43 straight games. Those were the days when Arrowhead was full of pride and feared the most by opponents. Fans would poor into the Truman Sports Complex from all areas of the Midwest, not only to cheer their beloved Chiefs to victory, but to also tailgate. No other professional venue hosts a parking lot party like Kansas City.
I currently live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and people ask me all the time, “where is the best place to get BBQ in KC?” Every time I reply with “In the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium.” Tailgating is taken as serious as the game that’s about to be played inside the stadium. The sights, sounds, and smells of the parking lot at Arrowhead are the pinnacle of our tradition.
On Monday October 31st, 2011, the Chiefs were hosting the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. This was the first time in five years that I had seen Arrowhead back to it’s old ways. There was a haze of smoke in the air of the parking lot that fine October evening. Smoke from passionate fans grilling and barbequing. I can remember the delicious smells and partying atmosphere like it was yesterday.
Fans were excited and passionate about their team again. Not to mention the game was for a first place tie in the AFC West. Arrowhead was packed. It was the type of atmosphere where the guy behind you, a person you have never met before, was like your family. You made sure to turn around and high five that person on every good play the Chiefs made. That kind of atmosphere is the Arrowhead magic.
With a rockin’ crowd behind the Chiefs, Arrowhead magic struck once again that night at the expense of the Chargers. The Chargers were in position to win the game. With the clock expiring, and in range to kick the game winning field goal, quarterback Philip Rivers fumbled the snap of what would have been a simple hand off to kill the clock.
Somehow, someway, linebacker Andy Studebaker came up with the recovery, and I have never heard Arrowhead erupt like it did. Every single fan was jumping and hugging and slapping hands. It was truly an amazing moment to witness inside that stadium. The Chiefs went on to win the game in over time.
Arrowhead used be like that Monday night game every Sunday. That’s why I say we need Arrowhead back. The Chiefs need Arrowhead back. With new coaches, a new front office, new players, and a beautifully renovated stadium, the optimism is high and so are the season ticket sales. This new regime needs the greatest fans in the NFL to once again unite and pack Arrowhead to the point that it’s almost impossible for opponents to come in there and win.
We need the “tomahawk chop” to be louder than ever and have the entire stadium shaking from fans pounding on their seats and screaming – all things that used to happen every single home game. So I say to you, my fellow Chiefs fans, we need to let people know that Arrowhead is “the hoooome of theeee CHIEEEEFS!!!!”