KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are actively considering the future of Arrowhead Stadium, pushing ahead with planning far earlier than expected following the Kansas City Royals' decision to investigate a new downtown ballpark.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said Friday that the Chiefs, who have shared the Truman Sports Complex with the Royals since the early 1970s, would help the Major League Baseball team evaluate what is best for them. But the Chiefs also have to plan for the future of their own stadium, which will celebrate its opening 50 years ago during the upcoming season.
“I know there's been a lot of discussion about it over the last several months, and maybe even going back almost a year, to when the Royals announced they were thinking about different opportunities,” Hunt said. “For us, the schedule is probably a little bit ahead of where it would naturally be because of the Royals wanting to be proactive.”
The Chiefs and Royals are tied to their stadium leases through the 2030-31 seasons after Jackson County voters approved a three-eighths cent tax to pay for upgrades more than a decade ago. But given the lead time required for planning, financing and building, both teams realistically must decide on their futures in the next two or three years.
There are also political considerations at play.
Legislators in Kansas are close to approving a measure to authorize sports betting that would dedicate most of the state's revenues from the effort to lure the Chiefs across the state line. The idea would be to present a financial package that makes the move attractive to an area by Kansas Speedway, which is also close to the home of MLS club Sporting Kansas City.
Hunt said that the Chiefs support the gambling legislation in Kansas, as well as similar legislation in Missouri, though efforts to authorize sports betting there have continually hit roadblocks and eventual approval remains in question.
“We know legal sports betting has been going on for a long time,” Hunt said, “and so we think it's really best that it comes out into the light, you know, where it can be regulated in an appropriate way.”
Much like Kauffman Stadium, which is still considered one of baseball's jewels, Arrowhead Stadium carries with it a certain mystique in the NFL. It opened in 1972 with none of the accoutrements of modern stadiums, yet its unique architecture and the rabid Chiefs fanbase have made it one of the most intimidating venues in the league.
In September 2014, the Chiefs set the Guinness Book of World Records for the loudest outdoor sports facility when 142.2 decibels of sound were recorded when Kansas City was on defense in a game against the New England Patriots.
The sprawling parking lots around the facility, which reflected the trend of urban flight during the 1960s and '70s, may no longer be in vogue. But in the case of Arrowhead Stadium, the lots create the perfect setting for perhaps the best tailgating experience in the NFL, and a mouth-watering walk through a sea of fans just to reach the stadium.
“From a personal standpoint, it's something that would be very challenging for me and my family (to move) because we have so many great memories,” said Hunt, whose father Lamar founded the Chiefs and helped lead the stadium construction.
“Obviously it was a special place for my dad,” Clark Hunt said. “He mentioned that if he could pick one vacation spot in the world, it would be here. So it's not a decision we're going to take lightly.”
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