Original Article: Stadium Journey
Arrowhead Stadium opened in August of 1972. It is the fourth largest stadium in the NFL, with a capacity of 77,000. At its time of induction, George Halas called Arrowhead, “the most revolutionary, futuristic, sports complex I have ever seen.”
FANFARE SCORE: 25 (out of 35)
F ood and beverage: 5
I was blown away by the variety of food served at the “new” Arrowhead. The renovations that were completed prior to the 2009 season focused on expanding the concourse, and they did just that. The concession stands were all new as well, providing fans with several food options.
The first stop we made was at Taqueria Cantina, which featured fajita burritos and beef/chicken nachos grande for $9, in addition to tacos and quesadillas for $7. They also offered cinnamon churros for $4.
Another stand nearby consisted of burgers and chicken tenders, in addition to catfish fingers and something called a catfish po boy. All four were priced at $8.75. Steak fries come with the burgers and chicken tenders, and were surprisingly good.
Gates Bar-B-Q, a local restaurant in Kansas City, also holds a spot on Arrowhead’s food concourse. There you can order a beef, ham, or turkey sandwich soaked in one of their famous sauces.
At another stand, the “58 Burger” is served, in honor of the late former Chiefs’ linebacker, Derrick Thomas. The 1/3 pound burger is topped with jalapenos, chili cheese, fries, lettuce, and tomato.
For the fan seeking traditional ballpark food, brats, hot dogs, and nachos are all available as well.
A large soda (they only serve Coke products) will set you back $5.75, while a regular drink is priced at $4.50. Hot chocolate and bottled water are also available for $4.50.
16 ounce bottles of Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Bud Light were available for $7.75, and Bud Light was on top at most stands for $7.50. The Taqueria Cantina even sold margaritas for $7.50.
A tmosphere: 4
The atmosphere outside of the stadium was energetic, as many fans arrived early to tailgate before the game. A line formed at the stadium gates nearly 45 minutes before they opened, as anticipation of the game grew. The gates finally opened an hour and a half prior to game time.
The energy during the first half could be described as upbeat and exciting. Despite a disappointing season, Chiefs fans came prepared to root on their team against the division rival Denver Broncos. The stadium got loud on third downs, and they chanted “first down” every time the home team moved the sticks.
Halftime proved to be a memorable moment for Chiefs fans, as the team officially retired the late Derrick Thomas’ number 58. Derrick’s mother, Edith, was present, as were many of Thomas’ former coaches and teammates; most notably Marty Schottenheimer and Neil Smith.
During timeouts throughout the game, the video boards displayed former Chiefs players revealing their favorite Derrick Thomas memories. This, in addition to the halftime presentation, added a great deal of historical presence to this particular Arrowhead experience.
The second half atmosphere was much different, as the Broncos opened up a 34-6 lead by the end of the third quarter. This caused many fans to leave early, a cardinal sin in my book.
Back in the 1990’s, and even early 2000’s, the atmosphere at Arrowhead would have earned five points on this rating scale. The team’s recent struggles, however, have scared away many fair-weather fans, leading to several empty seats on game day. Once dubbed, “the loudest stadium in the NFL" Arrowhead now lacks that certain magic that used to set it apart from other NFL venues.
N eighborhood: 2
Arrowhead is part of the Truman sports complex, which also includes the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium. Because of this, the entire area surrounding Arrowhead is a parking lot. This allows for plenty of parking space, but leaves little room for bars and restaurants.
There is a Subway and a gas station located across the street from Arrowhead. Across interstate 70, there are a few hotels and a Denny’s.
Your only real option outside the stadium on game day is to bring your own food and cook it, something most local fans do. Tailgaters flood the parking lots three-and-a-half hours prior to kickoff, filling the air with the smell of fresh barbecue. The Arrowhead faithful are generally known to be some of the best tailgaters in the league, though the enthusiasm and crowd size have decreased in recent years.
Saturday night before the game, my buddies and I hit up downtown Kansas City, about 10 miles from Arrowhead. We found a few bars on Main Street, eventually settling in at the Bulldog Bar. We sat at the bar, in front of one of their two old school TVs, and quickly realized this wasn’t a typical sports bar. Glasses of wine were on special for half price, while abstract art covered the walls. We were able to watch the Big 12 Championship game while throwing down a few beers, but one thing is for sure: the Bulldog Bar is not the ideal spot to watch a game.
F ans: 3
The Arrowhead crowd was into the game early on, cheering and booing when appropriate. The fans recognized several former Chiefs players as they were announced during the halftime ceremony, showing their knowledge and appreciation.
I attended this game with three friends, all of who were sporting Broncos gear. As the game wore on and the outcome became evident, several Chiefs fans approached my friends to say something like, “You guys have a good team” or, “Good game.” It was obvious to all of us that the crowd was respectful of the visiting team’s fans, even though they represented a division rival.
My only beef with the crowd was the fact that many fans left early. The game was out of reach half way through the third quarter, and the stadium began to empty as each possession passed. This is a big no-no in my eyes, and is the difference between three points and four on this particular rating scale.
A ccess: 4
The current renovations at Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium put a small dent in the parking access, but the spots available appeared sufficient for the crowd on this particular day. Our parking pass was included in the price of our tickets, so it’s difficult to know what we were charged for parking in the red reserved lot.
The cash lots are $22 per spot. Because parking lots surround the entire complex, you shouldn’t have to walk far, no matter where you park.
Thanks to the recent renovations, what used to be a narrow concourse surrounding the field is now an open and clear path that features several heated restrooms. The wait at halftime is minimal, a great improvement on the previous standards.
R eturn on Investment: 4
I was extremely happy with our seats—27th row in the lower level on the 40-yard line. We paid $125 for each seat, a price I consider to be just about right.
The food was expensive in general, though reasonably priced compared to other NFL stadiums. $22 to park may be a bit steep, but there’s little walking involved.
Overall, I’d say it was well worth the price of admission, and everything else was set at just about the right price.
E tc: 3
One of the great traditions at Arrowhead Stadium involves the national anthem. As the singer ends the song with, “And the home of the brave”, 77,000 Chiefs fan shout “CHIEFS!” in place of “brave”, startling Arrowhead first-timers and sending chills down everyone else’s spine.
The Chiefs’ mascot, K.C. Wolf, rides out onto the field on an ATV just minutes prior to kickoff. They usually dress a random guy up in the visiting teams’ apparel, and K.C. Wolf goes to town on this guy to get the crowd loud before the game.
Speaking of K.C. Wolf, we found the team mascot outside the stadium before the game taking pictures with fans; always a great photo opportunity.
The final point goes out to the text board located in each end zone between the second and third levels. This displays every word the stadium announcer says, allowing hearing impaired fans to keep up with the game.
While Arrowhead Stadium lacks that certain magic it displayed in the recent past, the new renovations (in addition to a better team) are sure to soon make Arrowhead one of the premier places to experience an NFL game.