Stadium Review: Arrowhead Stadium, Home of the Kansas City Chiefs

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIJanuary 2, 2011


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.” In 2010, a $375 million renovation was completed, adding to the already rich Arrowhead experience.

FANFARE SCORE:  4.1 out of 5

Food and beverage: 5/5

I was blown away by the variety of food served at the new Arrowhead. The renovations focused on expanding the concourse, and they did just that. The concession stands are 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 even offered cinnamon churros for $4.

Another stand nearby consisted of burgers and chicken tenders, in addition to catfish fingers and something called 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 late 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 Coke product 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.

Coors Light, Miller Lite and Bud Light in 16-ounce were available for $7.75, and Bud Light was on tap at most stands for $7.50. The Taqueria Cantina even sold margaritas for $7.50.

Atmosphere: 5/5

The atmosphere around the stadium was electric, as fans were excited to unveil the new Arrowhead on Monday Night Football. The recent renovations made for an overwhelming game-day experience.

Outside the stadium, fans are greeted with the Founder’s Plaza, an area honoring Lamar Hunt, the franchise’s founder. The area features a statue of Hunt and serves as a tribute to the original AFL teams. Personalized bricks are installed in the walkways to honor the Chiefs’ most loyal fans.

Not far from the Founder’s Plaza was a tent featuring a 6-feet by 7-feet Arrowhead Stadium cake assembled by ultimate cake artist Mike Elder. Fans were able to watch Mike put the finishing touches on his masterpiece before devouring it prior to kickoff.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the new Arrowhead is the Hall of Honor, located in the lower level concourse. Here fans can relive every regular season and playoff game for the past 50 years, including the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV victory. Video boards and a rotating ring of honor are on display, including player busts, bios and game-worn apparel.

Just before kickoff, a fireworks and lights display excited the crowd. The most anticipated national anthem in sports followed, as nearly 80,000 fans created a spine-chilling finish. (Click here for the video.)

During the game, the Arrowhead crowd was as loud as I’ve ever heard it, invoking memories of the 1990s when Arrowhead was referred to as the loudest stadium in the NFL.

Neighborhood: 2/5

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.

Fans: 4/5

The Arrowhead faithful played a large role in the outcome of the game, as the Chiefs were able to defeat the favored Chargers on a goal-line stand at the end of the game. The crowd noise forced several false-start and delay-of-game penalties, as well as unnecessary timeouts.

Heavy rain poured during most of the game, which didn’t faze the fans in the first half. Following halftime, however, as the storm’s intensity picked up, many fans didn’t return to their seats. This could have been a combination of the rain and the fact that it was a late game on a Monday night. Either way, this was the difference between a four and a five on the point scale.

Access: 4/5

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. Trying to get out of the parking lot following the game, however, can be quite frustrating.

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.

Return on Investment: 5/5

I’ve been to Arrowhead roughly eight or nine times, and the seats I had at this game were arguably the best in the house: 50 yard-line, lower level, last row right in front of the box seats. We were covered by the second deck overhang, keeping us dry the entire night. I’ve never had a bad seat at Arrowhead, but these seats were exceptional…and worth every penny.

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.

Etc: 4/5

Arrowhead has been less than amazing in recent years, but a combination of the new renovations and a young and exciting team makes the Arrowhead game-day experience one of the best in the NFL.

From the Founder’s Plaza to the Honor of Fame, the game itself and everything in between, Arrowhead has reestablished itself atop the list of stadiums every NFL fan must visit.