No Apology Necessary … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

Let me say this to Chiefs fans on this Christmas Eve – you have nothing to apologize for and no reason to feel bad.

Some of the folks in the media horde have been firing away here in the last few days because the Chiefs struggled to sell enough tickets to lift the local television blackout for this Sunday’s game against Tennessee. That finally happened around five o’clock Thursday night when the team announced they had met the league standards for allowing the game to be broadcast within 75 miles of Kansas City.

This game is not sold out and Arrowhead Stadium will not be full. In fact, depending on the weather – temperature and precipitation – there may be a lot of empty seats on all three levels of the stadium.

The gist of the media blather is that fans should be wrapping their arms around the 2010 Chiefs and spending their last dime to buy a seat at Arrowhead Stadium for the important game with the Titans. In their view, to not do so is a black mark against the football fans of the metro area.

I hate at this time of the year to use such language, but let me say that’s crap, and a major dose of it.


That this game was not sold out months ago is not the fault of Chiefs fans. The blame needs to be placed at the feet of the franchise, from its ownership family, through the front office, coaching suite and locker room.

There’s something that many of my compadres in the sporting media have not grasped – the fervor of the 1990s and early 2000s for Chiefs football is gone. It died in an avalanche of losing and it’s not coming back. Trying to resurrect those passions would be misplaced and will end in disappointment.

What this new group that’s running the team and playing on the field must do is create its own magic. Success at the box office won’t come from the past, or even the present. It will come in the future. It’s the same with the fans in the stands. The worst three-year stretch in franchise history changed the face of the Arrowhead ticket buyers.

So did some of the prices that the team has decided to charge, especially on the club level where there are so many of empty seats because fans have decided the price and the commitment in a contract for a number of years is not worth the cost.

We all need to remember that there are several unique factors involved in the position the Chiefs have in the hearts and minds of those who live in the Chiefs Nation – from Iowa to Nebraska, Oklahoma to Arkansas, and of course Missouri and Kansas. That area of influence is geographically huge, if not population heavy. But in the past, there have been fans that drove five hours one-way to see a Chiefs game.

The number of people willing to make that sacrifice dropped as the team’s record fell. It’s a natural progression that comes with losing. It’s going to take a number of seasons of winning to convince people to make that type of investment again.

Plus, the folks in the Chiefs Nation are planners – they make decisions about October and November in April and May. Kansas City and the Chiefs in particular, has never been a big day-of-game ticket seller. Fans want a plan and showing up at the Truman Sports Complex without a ticket is going without a plan. There are other cities – Buffalo for instance – who have sold 10,000 to 15,000 tickets on game day.

Again, the plans were made when the Chiefs were coming off a 4-12 season under new management. As much as the franchise pushed the fact that the team was improved last year, it was not an easy thing for the fans to see. It did not provide a spark that had fans heading to the ticket windows.

As important as those factors are, the key points in this discussion are the economy and the changing nature of the American sports fan. I am not an economist and don’t expect an in-depth explanation of the American financial situation. It’s safe to say that whatever recovery there may have come from the struggles in recent years, it’s miniscule. Disposal dollars are much harder to come by for the average American family and there are plenty of options competing for that money.

Fans around the country and especially in the NFL have discovered that an investment in tickets, parking, food and drink at the stadium, can be diverted into a big screen TV with HD and surround sound.

Team Marketing Report estimated several months ago that the average ticket price in the NFL is $76.47, a 4.5 percent increase from the 2009 season. That pushed the overall cost for a family of four to go to the game, park, concessions and souvenirs to be $420 per game. Should you want to make that a family affair for an entire season, that’s 10 home games or a total of $4,200.

The average price of DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package is $325 a year. That gives the fan the ability to watch any game, or watch more than one game at a time. The replays are right there. There is no line for the bathroom, no drunken idiot throwing up in the next row. There are no problems getting out of the driveway after the game.

The price of tickets, parking and everything else is an investment for a lot of fans. When that investment does not pay a dividend – fan enjoyment, the belief that the home team has a chance to win every weekend, exciting performances – fans are going to pull their money out and find another avenue for their investment.

It’s happening around the league. Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Oakland will have home games blacked out on local television. That’s 23 blackouts in the season, the most the league has seen, and there’s one more week of the regular season to go. Last year the league had 22 blackouts, including the Chiefs home game against the Browns near the end of the season.

Sports fans in middle America have supported the Chiefs for 45-plus years. They will support them again. That they didn’t rush to the ticket window for this season or this Sunday’s game does not speak ill of the Chiefs Nation.


  • BRONCOS – placed K Matt Prater on the injured-reserve list (groin) ending his season; signed G Stanley Daniels off their practice squad.
  • BROWNS – signed DT Ko Quaye off the Bills practice squad.
  • EAGLES – placed CB Jorrick Calvin on the injured-reserve list (back) ending his season.
  • SEAHAWKS – placed DT Junior Siavii on the injured-reserve list (neck) ending his season; signed LB Joe Pawelek off their practice squad.

29 Responses to “No Apology Necessary … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 24, 2010  - Milkman says:

    Good article, Bob. I live 5 hours away now and lost my 2 season tickets to Satan’s sister when I divorced her 13 years ago. I’ve tried to buy single game tickets when I can, but I must say the NFL makes it hard to want to. First, I don’t ever have to worry about a blackout living this far away. Second, The NFL has done such a good job of selling their product on television it is so easy to stay in my comfortable chair at home and watch. And ever since I got my big screen with high definition it’s like being there anyway.
    I know there is nothing like the atmosphere at Arrowhead when the games really matter. There are a lot of new and younger Chiefs fans who don’t. I think you’re right- it will take a little hard work on the Chiefs part to convince these new fans to come out. If the Chiefs keep winning, they’ll get hooked.

  • December 24, 2010  - Jess - Federal Way, WA says:

    Great article, Bob. I have seen a lot of fan-on-fan bashing on multiple forums due to the lack of ticket sales for this game.

    I saw a quote from Brian Waters basically saying that the players understand the situation, i.e. time of year, economy, etc. Especially the fact that the game is the day after Christmas.

  • December 24, 2010  - James says:

    Good article Bob. It’s been kind of a perfect storm with the Chiefs with the economy, change in front office personnel, coaching staff and player personnel. Winning will cure a lot of ill’s. Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and go Chiefs.

  • December 24, 2010  - RW says:

    Excellent comments on an issue most around the NFL care not to address. Of course, winning is the best promotion ever created and while the Chiefs have turned around their downward spiral this year, it may well take another season or two before the fans ‘have been shown’ that this is a team worthy of their long drives and disposable dollars to see in person.

    One other point about HD television coverage and TV presentation in general. I recently purchased a 3D capable TV and have seen a few college football games on it.

    If the NFL starts telecasting in 3D, I would suspect they’ll charge a premium of some kind because to my eyes, 3D is better than being there in person except for the live ambience of the crowd and stadium trappings which never were that much of a draw for me in the first place.

  • December 24, 2010  - el cid says:

    Love the Chiefs and the NFL in general. But, hopefully, someone in the head office of the NFL or at least the Chiefs will stick their head out the door and look at the world outside football. The economy stinks and will do so for a couple more years, so lots will not have enough to keep a roof over their heads and that makes football a bit unimportant. WANT FULL STADIUMS, lower prices. No more 5 year commitments for a discounted ticket. It takes thousands to see a game live, and face it, the Chiefs have sucked more years than been good, even decent.

    Got to get off my high horse, sorry. It just burns my ass when there are empty seats and the prices stay so high.

  • December 24, 2010  - el cid says:

    I was told a long time ago, never talk politics or religion with friends, you will never change their minds and only make them angry. Sorry, again, Merry Christmas (also I am not a PC kind of guy) to all and to all a good night.

  • December 24, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    The Chiefs need to add something to the season ticket package that doesn’t cost the organization much money but gives the fans what they want. Some ideas and all involve VIP treatment for season ticket holders:

    1. Phone code for conference call with Todd Haley and Scott Pioli after every “quarter” of the season (four game review). The season ticket holders get exclusive access and an opportunity to ask question….maybe 10 to 20;

    2. Meet and greet with players. It would have to be broken up by section during the course of the season. RSVP’s will give the team an idea of how many fans must be accommodated;

    3. Priority in getting into the stadium on game day. A “Season Ticket Only” line;

    4. Photo privileges during training camp;

    5. Permanent discount on Chiefs gear purchased at the stadium— 20%?

    6. Arrange discounts with hotel chains and car rental companies for season ticket holders who attend out of town games;

    7. Insider Newsletter. Maybe Josh Looney puts it together and it is e-mailed after every game;

    8. Special draft report from Scott Pioli– pre and post draft. Sent via e-mail.

    9. Text notifications. Again, Josh sends info to season ticket holders than no one else gets all year round.

    10. Last, but not least, the Chiefs cut a deal with Bob Gretz to provide access to this site. It’s the best Chiefs information available.

    The possibilities are endless and maybe some of this is already being done (I’m no longer a Chiefs season ticket holder), but the idea is to make a serious effort at VIP treatment to season ticket holders. Give them value and that normally means access and information. I would also look into giving season ticket holders a good discount on unsold tickets. Meaning, if they want to buy more tickets for an individual game and it isn’t sold out, they get a special discount. These are the heavy users and they should get discounts on virtually everything. Might require a VIP ID card. Another thought– the Chiefs work with the business community to give discounts on their products and services to Chiefs season ticket holders. Show a VIP card and get 15% off meals, apparel, etc….

  • December 24, 2010  - Morten says:

    Merry christmas Bob, thank you so much for doing this site… Truly appreciated everyday. All the way from Denmark a merry christmas to all and lets get a xmas W on sunday:-)

  • December 24, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    One more thought— The Chiefs need a coupon booklet for season ticket holders that can save them a good chunk of what they spent on their season tickets. A discount with Price Chopper would be a good start. All sponsors of the stadium, Chiefs web site or for the broadcasts should be a part of this. The goal would be to prove to season ticket holders that there are ways they can offset their purchase that are realistic. Movies, restaurants, groceries,travel…whatever that can be used as a legitimate sales tool to attract season ticket buyers. Maybe for the most expensive tickets there are some higher end discounts— jewelry, cars, etc….

    If money is the concern, that can be addressed with a cooperative effort with the business community. They need buyers, the Chiefs need to sell tickets and we need to save money. A win-win-win.

  • December 24, 2010  - Niblick says:

    These are some very good ideas for season ticket holders. Perhaps some of these might happen in the future. Getting more open access to Haley and Pioli isn’t going to happen. This regime prides itself on secrecy. I don’t agree with it, but they are not going to change.

    Even if the economy picks up and the season ticket base increases, I don’t feel we can ever duplicate the 90′s. It was unique at Arrowhead. I remember the 49rs coming here in 1994 to face Montana. I don’t feel that kind of electricity can ever be duplicated. Perhaps if we host the AFC champonship game at home in the future it might be. Not in the regular season.

    Lets win out and get a home playoff game. Happy Holidays to everyone.

  • December 24, 2010  - Chuck says:

    Here’s my nickels worth on it. Iam not going to sit outside on Christmas weekend with all my relatives at the house and me not there in 30 degree weather with no dome on the stadium. It boggles my mind why the Chiefs have not put a dome on this stadium.

  • December 24, 2010  - Tim says:

    Tenand6…the Chiefs marketing dept. should hire you. You’ve thrown out some very good ideas to build value into a season ticket. I especially like the idea of co-op with a Price Chopper or similar. Perhaps a discount card that’s good for the entire season at multiple places (ie. Price Chopper, Home Depot, a movie chain, etc.). THAT is tangible value that isn’t just a one-time thing.
    Bob, great article! I was born & raised just south of KC & graduated from MU, but live in the Dallas area. I am a season ticket holder. I attend at least 5 of the 8 games. I made my investment in tickets toward the end of Herm’s second season. I knew he wouldn’t be around long & got GREAT seats. I believed in Clark. He may be a bit slow & methodical, but he got it right. I believe you’re right that the fans will return as progress on the field is made & peoples’ fortunes improve.

  • December 24, 2010  - TDKC says:

    This is why I love your site. Honest real reporting. The truth,the way you see it. Not some made up crap to get the readers/listeners/viewers blood boiling.

    Thanks and Merry Christmas

  • December 24, 2010  - Edward says:

    This article is kind of one sided thogh. Colts,Steelers,Packers, etc still selling tickets. I mean yea the losing does drive away fans but I bet a team like Bills if they started to win stadium would be packed. Make excuses all you want but Chiefs fans should be rallying around this team. Buzz what buzz do you want other than winning. That is the only buzz that should drive any true sports fan is the W, I’m just so disappointed because even small market like Packers still sellout so do Steelers. I don’t hear people using economy as excuse in those places. I mean we got a GM whose beeb the architect of 3 Super Bowl winning teams. And in only his second year at the helm he already has this team winning. So whether fans or media like it or not this is a blackeye for a fan base that suppose to be one of the most passionate one in football.

  • December 24, 2010  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Tenand6, that’s the best post I’ve read in a long time.

    They should hire you, those are fantastic ideas.

    I’m wondering if other teams do similar things for season ticket holders?

    I heard that the Bronco’s gave their season ticket holders a 100% guarantee that they will be in last place for the next 5 years, and an autographed bibles from Tim Te-blow

  • December 24, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Bob, I’m behind you 100%. Kansas City is a classic example of a football town. The Chiefs nation following is huge. The cost of fun at Arrowhead is a concern for the average fan. The media does’nt really sway people much any more anyway. Some people flat out don’t care for the live, stadium experience. (as opposed to a Lazy Boy and HD TV) You could give away free tickets and there would still be plenty of no takers.

    I think Tenand6 has some great ideas. Packaging season tickets with discounts, premium services & related perks is a Win Win situation for all. I’m sure it has been considered before, just not implemented. Alas, I’m looking forward to Sundays game.

    Merry Christmas to all. Have a healthy, happy and spiritual weekend.
    Go Chiefs.

  • December 24, 2010  - leonard says:

    Bob: I was a season ticket holder for 20 years until this year. The past 2 years I had some health issues that kept me from going to the games. The long walk from the parking lot, and the trek up to the seats was getting to much to handle. I appreciate the upgrade to the upper level, but the outrageous amounts of money spent on the club level to entice the wealthy chiefs fan seemed like a slap in the face to the regular fans. And isn’t funny how the people the money was spent on are the ones not showing up in droves. Escalators would have been a nice feature to the upper level, and maybe some parking or drop off site up at the stadium would have been nice, so some of us wouldn’t have to walk so far.
    The biggest issue of course is that with HD it is alot cheaper, and easier to watch at home. Look at the TV Ratings. I am also unhappy that the CBA has not been reached. Until they the NFL and players show respect to the common fan who does not have an unlimited amount of money that they understand, and lower prices, it will be a hard sell. I miss the atmosphere, but not the hassle.

  • December 24, 2010  - Jonathan says:

    Tenand6 you have some wonderful ideas. Maybe you may want to send them to One Arrowhead Drive and see what happens. We could all sign the letter and back you up 100%. With the Chiefs having a rabid fan base and the economy as it stands now you would drum up a lot of support.

    The NFL needs to take a look at its marketing plan and stop wondering besides the economy why people aren’t attending games. By having the NFL exposing itself 24/7/365 and creating Red Zone, Sunday Package, and other outlets people don’t have to attend games. If all I have to do is order out some food and buy my own drinks there is no need to worry about parking, disorderly fans, and cold weather. Additionally, I save on the price of the ticket. Would I want to see a Chiefs game in person at Arrowhead? Yes, because I have never been and live in Chicago but if there are other alternatives that are price effective then those options must be considered.

    It would be nice if Arrowhead is filled this Sunday but the hollidays, the economy, and I know some people still aren’t on the bandwagon yet are good reasons. But GO CHIEFS and all Chiefs personnel, Bob, and all Chiefs fans have a Merry Christmas.

  • December 24, 2010  - Enrique says:

    From Mexico:

    Merry Christmas to all of you.

    Be healthy, be safe, and above everything, be happy.

    Best wishes.

  • December 24, 2010  - cychief24 says:

    Some really great thoughts here by all of you.
    My thoughts as a 33 year STH that drives from Des Moines: We moved from the Club level to the front row Upper 25yd because of the prices. Those of us that go to all the games and some away games do it because we know we can make a difference with our colors and noise. However it’s the more casual fans that the Chiefs and the NFL needs to make it more attractive to be at the stadium. Tenand6 and others listed some great marketing ideas. Supply and demand should bring ticket prices down also. Chiefs picked a bad time to do the Club contracts.
    My idea would be for the NFL to jack up DTV Sunday Ticket prices to $500+ and give it away to Season Ticket Holders for away games.

  • December 24, 2010  - Mike says:

    You are either a fan or not a fan. Get up and go to the game. The noise is needed for the next 2 weeks and all you hear are excuses.
    Its Christmas…Its cold…Its the economy…Its the past losing…
    Its pathetic is what it is. Season ticket holder or not and the cost of any drink and food is your decision. Don’t buy anything in there then. You can’t get a few folks to split the parking and buy a $45 ticket to help out in some small way? Put your Red on and sit in front of your TV oh I’m sorry its a HOME game. (Been driving 4 hours for over 20 years and proud of it)

    Wow what fans and but I hope you come out anyway!

    Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year

  • December 24, 2010  - MarkInTexas says:

    Bob, excellent analysis.

    I’m an exception…have 4 season tickets and travel from Texas to come to the games. But you’re right, no need for Chiefs fans to apologize for any empty seats. Economy, weather and a horrific decade of product makes any empty seats the responsibility of management.

    KC loves the Chiefs. And it will respond as the team earns it. This year, I think the fan response has been comensurate with the progress of the team.

  • December 24, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    10and6 is right on. But we are in contension for the playoffs. Get ur asses to the game!! ha. Merry Christmas all

  • December 24, 2010  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Thanks for all the good stuff and hard work. Chiefs fans will continue to come back. In the meantime, we can all root for our team in whatever way makes sense for each of us. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

  • December 24, 2010  - Brian says:

    Sorry Bob but I am going to have to disagree with you. While I can agree to some extent on some of your points, the fans “support” of this team is disappointing to put it lightly. For several years now I have heard Chiefs fans bitch and piss and moan and complain about how awful the Chiefs were and how fans needed to take responsibility and force ownership to fix the Chiefs and to do so they needed to hit ownership “where it hurts….the pocketbook”. Yes….to be sure, fans had to stop attending games and enabling Herm and Carl’s reign of terror over the Chiefs. Those days have long since passed. Here we are in the AFC West lead with 2 games to go and are close to clinching their first division title since 2003 and fans are acting like we are a 2-14 team with nothing to play for? Are you kidding me? This team has made major strides. They have done their part. Now it is time for the fans to do theirs. How can the Chiefs take advantage of having a “homefield advantage when fans aren’t showing up to be the 12th man? Sorry, but this is shameful and disgraceful and more in line with what the more pathetic fanbases around the NFL would do….not the Chiefs.

  • December 24, 2010  - dan says:

    Still sounds like sour grapes from a fired employee…

  • December 24, 2010  - Nate says:

    Bob I will only comment on one part of your article. Your statement that the ferver of the 90′s and early years of 2000 are gone and never coming back is a bunch of crap! If the Chiefs go 10-6 or 11-6 and win the division and come back next year and go 11-6 or 12-4 and go deep in the playoffs which I believe they will, Arrowhead will be full and rocking. The truth is Scott Pioli is so superior to Carl Peterson that the years ahead will be far more successful than they have been since the super bowl years of my youth!!

  • December 25, 2010  - Edward says:

    Totally agree Nate. Nothing else to add to that. Great points too Brian.

  • December 26, 2010  - el cid says:

    Survived Christmas with 5 grandaughters, great time but I feel like father time and need a nap.

    That said Nate and Edward, what a bunch you two make. Both full of it.

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