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Lzen
05-20-2005, 09:00 AM
GRETZ: Arrowhead Apathy
May 20, 2005, 4:52:32 AM by Bob Gretz


In the world of sports, there are three emotions: passion, disillusionment and apathy.

Disillusionment is not good, but it still shows there is concern and care. There’s nothing worse for a sports franchise and sports fan than apathy, and that’s certainly not an emotion that can be associated with the 2005 Kansas City Chiefs. They remain Kansas City’s No. 1 sports story.

But there is apathy surrounding the Chiefs, and specifically the team’s stadium situation. Except for a small group of forward thinkers, it doesn’t appear that the power brokers inas2 the city and state understand that Arrowhead Stadium in its current state is not a first-rate facility. That was proven again when the Missouri Legislature refused to even vote on the Athletes & Artists bill that would have directed funds to the upkeep of both stadiums in the Truman Sports Complex.

Arrowhead is slowly falling apart. After 32 years of use, it’s badly in need of major refurbishment and change. The problem grows on a monthly basis and the more improvements are put off, bigger issues will be created. We aren’t talking about fancy stuff here, but important infrastructure items like plumbing and electrical. The more the stadium issue is pushed aside and not understood, the bigger the issue becomes in the future of the football team in this city.

It’s not the first time. Let me take you back four decades, to the turning point year in the history of the Chiefs: 1965. That was the year that pro football almost died in Kansas City.

Lamar Hunt moved his franchise here from Dallas in 1963 with the promise by city fathers that they would sell 20,000 season tickets. When that figure reached 13,000, Hunt pulled up stakes and the Texans became the Chiefs.

But there were never 20,000 season tickets sold, not in 1963, not in 1964 and certainly not in 1965. Hunt can rip off the season ticket total for that season from memory: 9,559. It was the lowest season ticket total in Chiefs history and in 1965, when the AFL was growing and becoming a stable league, it was the lowest of the eight teams. Hunt was under pressure from fellow owners to abandon Kansas City and move to a bigger market like Chicago or Anaheim.

Fan apathy had two sources at that time: the Chiefs were not winning and Charlie Finley. In their first two seasons in Kansas City, the team had a 12-14-2 record. They finished 7-5-2 in 1965, giving them a three-year mark of 19-19-2. Hardly the type of effort expected from a team that won the 1962 AFL Championship as the Dallas Texans and had Hall of Famers like Len Dawson, Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan, along with a Hall of Fame head coach in Hank Stram.

Finley was a factor as well. He owned the Kansas City Athletics and was constantly talking about moving his team, which he eventually did in 1968, taking them to Oakland. Upon moving to Kansas City, Hunt was told by Finley that he would never make it because Kansas City was a minor-league town.

Hunt said he never considered a move.

“There were concerns,” Hunt said 40 years later. “The transition from Dallas to Kansas City had been a tough one for many of the players. We were working very hard to be accepted in the Kansas City community with mixed results. And, there were others in the league that thought we should be in a bigger city.”

am2Pro football was very close to being a flop in Kansas City.

“Those first years were hardly what you could call successful,” said Len Dawson, who lived through the times as the team’s starting quarterback. “We struggled on the field and we struggled at the gate. All the pieces didn’t fall together.”

The 1965 season ended in tragedy, when FB Mack Lee Hill died on the operating table. Hill went in for knee surgery, but events took a tragic turn at the end of the operation when his temperature shot up to 108 degrees and his organs began to fail. His death shocked the team and the city.

Here’s where the story took a remarkable turn. While fans were apathetic, the power brokers and media of Kansas City were not. It was in May 1965 that the first plans were made public for a new stadium for the Chiefs and Athletics. It was a dome, along with several other smaller arena-type buildings that was to be built on the site of what is now the Truman Sports Complex.

The city fathers and especially the Kansas City Star got behind a ticket drive to improve the fortunes of both the Chiefs and Athletics. The goals were 20,000 season tickets for football, 5,000 for baseball.

Ernest Mehl was the sports editor of the Star and when he retired from that position at the end of 1965, he was named special projects editor at the newspaper with the assignment of helping publicize the efforts to build a new stadium and sell tickets.

In the early days of 1966, there were almost daily updates in both the morning Kansas City Times and the afternoon Kansas City Star about the ticket drive. Stories about the efforts were a regular part of the paper, especially as area businesses got involved, led by the local banks, which became ticket outlets for both teams.

This combined effort of the business community and media paid dividends for the Chiefs: 20,000 season tickets were sold by April and the number eventually grew to 22,000. A few months later, the merger of the AFL and NFL was announced.

“The success of that (ticket) drive was just one more ingredient that helped the merger,” said Hunt, who put together the details of the merger with then Cowboys GM Tex Schramm. “It was well known that there were NFL teams that didn’t sell anywhere near 22,000 season tickets.”

The Chiefs eventually thrived, and no matter the effort, Finley moved his team. And seven years later, the finest sporting facility in the country was finally open, with two great stadiums that have served the teams and the public well for 30-plus years.

Today, the Chiefs don’t have problems selling tickets. But they have a stadium problem, and unlike their counterparts of yesteryear, local leaders and the Kansas City Star have chosen to ignore or brush aside the issue.

Yes, this is a different time than 1965. There are problems with roads, schools, infrastructure and health care. You don’t think there were similar problems 40 years ago?

There’s no doubt the Star no longer holds a position of power in the local community as it did back in the 1960s. Ownership is elsewhere and newspapers have been equaled andptst surpassed by other forms of media. But the daily paper can still inform, it can still stand for civic progress. It did so with the downtown Arena vote last summer and that building has only the promise of tenants like the Chiefs and Royals.

There is apathy at City Hall. There is apathy at the Kansas City Club, Civic Council, River Club or wherever the power brokers hang out. There is apathy at the Kansas City Star. Sooner or later, these groups must wake up and learn from history, or that’s what the Chiefs and Royals will be, just a chapter in the history book of a city that knew it had a good thing 40 years ago, but then forgot.

Link (http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2005/05/20/gretz_arrowhead_apathy)

tyton75
05-20-2005, 09:03 AM
I hate Gretz

Simplex3
05-20-2005, 09:04 AM
Except for a small group of forward thinkers

Why do we call people who want to spend other people's money "forward thinkers"? I thought they were "thieves".

BigRedChief
05-20-2005, 09:08 AM
Even if he brings up valid points its a moot point because his lips are permanently attached to King Carl's ass. who cares? It's just pr. Move along nothing to see here.

Dallas Chief
05-20-2005, 09:09 AM
Bring home a championship and that mindset will change. CP admonishing the media about the seats always being full is his only concern really doesn't help the situation much either.

KChiefs1
05-20-2005, 09:19 AM
The state of Kansas & Wyandotte County ought to be sitting down with Lamar Hunt & telling him they'll build him a stadium that will rival Arrowhead, only this one will have amenities out the wazzoo & they can still be called the "Kansas" City Chiefs!

philfree
05-20-2005, 09:21 AM
Someone needs to speak up and after reading a few posts here there is abviously apathy in more places then those Gretz wrote about.

PhilFree:arrow:

kc rush
05-20-2005, 09:31 AM
But what about all of the "Tin Throats" and "Hairdos" who have been saying that we should build renovate or build a new stadium for the Chiefs? Are they respected journalists now?

Lzen
05-20-2005, 09:34 AM
Someone needs to speak up and after reading a few posts here there is abviously apathy in more places then those Gretz wrote about.

PhilFree:arrow:

I think you're right. This is why they need the media to get on the build a new stadium (or at least upgrade Arrowhead) bandwagon. And a lot of people won't listen to the message just because it's coming from Gretz. No matter how true it is.

philfree
05-20-2005, 09:55 AM
I think you're right. This is why they need the media to get on the build a new stadium (or at least upgrade Arrowhead) bandwagon. And a lot of people won't listen to the message just because it's coming from Gretz. No matter how true it is.


I don't know it's the media as much as it is the people who vote the A-holes into the offices need to tell them that if they don't start pushing this agenda or there will be no more votes. The media can certainly help but it's up to the people to start making noise, writing letters and sending e-mails. Save Our Chiefs!

PhilFree:arrow:

Lzen
05-20-2005, 10:00 AM
I don't know it's the media as much as it is the people who vote the A-holes into the offices need to tell them that if they don't start pushing this agenda or there will be no more votes. The media can certainly help but it's up to the people to start making noise, writing letters and sending e-mails. Save Our Chiefs!

PhilFree:arrow:

True. But what's the best way to pressure the jackasses in charge? By informing the public and getting them on the bandwagon. What's the best way to do that? A well-planned media campaign.

tyton75
05-20-2005, 10:01 AM
Why the phuck does everything they vote for have to be tied to the "Arts?"

why can't they just simply vote on the issue at hand.. renovate? yes or no

and just because Weirdwolf is the king of painting his face does not make it "art" :)

shaneo69
05-20-2005, 10:07 AM
This is comical.

Why should the KC Star try to help the Chiefs get a new/refurbished stadium when all the Chiefs PR dept does is rip the Star any chance they get?

Even when Gretz is pleading for their help, he still manages to criticize them as being apathetic and nearly irrelevant.

I'm still convinced that Gretz' condescending tone cost DT any sympathy votes he might've got from the HoF selection committee.

ChiTown
05-20-2005, 10:15 AM
Gretz.................................. :rolleyes:

He has the journalistic know-how of KCNut.........

TEX
05-20-2005, 10:21 AM
Bring home a championship and that mindset will change. CP admonishing the media about the seats always being full is his only concern really doesn't help the situation much either.

Yep! :clap: