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Tribal Warfare
01-05-2011, 05:42 AM
Chiefs still waiting for ticket sales to come around (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/04/2561623/after-winning-season-chiefs-still.html)
By KENT BABB
The Kansas City Star

When Chiefs executive Mark Donovan arrived in Kansas City last year, he was facing a worst-case scenario. The team was mired in the worst period of losing in franchise history, the nation’s economy had tanked, and work had begun on a major renovation to Arrowhead Stadium that would cost $375 million — an investment that, in part, would pay itself off with luxury seating in a high-dollar club level.

Donovan, the team’s chief operating officer, watched in late 2009 as Arrowhead, known as one of America’s great football venues, began emptying.

“If you look at the chain of events,” he said in his office Tuesday, “we would have asked for a much different scenario. Just about everything went the way you didn’t want it to go.”

The Chiefs have started winning again, but attendance hasn’t gotten much better. Despite 10 victories during the 2010 regular season and a division championship for the first time in seven years, attendance at Arrowhead is still suffering from a lingering hangover from those forgettable three years.

During its eight home games, the Chiefs had the lowest attendance by capacity percentage among the 12 teams that reached the NFL playoffs. According to this season’s announced attendance figures, Arrowhead’s crowds filled an average of 88.6 percent of its 76,416-seat capacity — far less than the next-lowest playoff team, the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans filled Qwest Field to an average of 93 percent capacity. And the Seahawks finished 7-9 and became the first franchise in league history to reach the postseason with a losing record.

All but two Chiefs games — the regular-season opener against San Diego and an October game against Jacksonville — were at less than 90 percent capacity. Attendance based on capacity percentage this season, when the Chiefs lost only one home game, was lower than two of the past three seasons, when the team combined to lose 38 games.

Donovan said the numbers have been disappointing, but he said that sports attendance is actually influenced more by what happened the previous season, rather than what has happened more recently.

This year’s numbers might be down, but Donovan said the Chiefs sold more 2011 season tickets last week, as the regular season closed and the playoffs approached, than were sold throughout all of last year. All non-club level seats for the home playoff game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens have sold out as well.

“Success on the field will generate season tickets for the next season,” said Donovan, who wouldn’t divulge the number sold. “That’s what we’re seeing, and our fans have responded.

“We’ve been listening to our fans, and they’ve been speaking to us — speaking with their wallets.”

The team has improved, but some of the same reasons Arrowhead hasn’t been its familiar sea of red this season remain. The economy hasn’t dramatically improved, and Donovan admitted that the Chiefs have seen their most significant 2011 sales boosts in the lower-priced regions of the stadium.

The team also is still relying on those high-priced tickets in the club level to not only fill Arrowhead but also keep up with teams in larger markets, which are home to more companies willing to stockpile premium tickets.

To do that, the Chiefs have made a push to keep fans who did spring for the stadium’s most expensive seats. The team has offered discounts to club-level ticket holders who pledge a new three-year commitment, in an effort to prevent its most exclusive level from emptying. Donovan said two-thirds of all tickets next season will be priced the same or less than they were in 2010.

Club seats sell for upward of $225 during regular-season games and will increase to $240 next year without a recommitment. Those seats sell for as much as $253 each for this week’s first-round playoff game, and if the Chiefs were to play host to the AFC championship, some club-level tickets would cost $358 apiece.

Jason Wood, 31, said he simply can’t afford the high prices. Besides, he said, he doesn’t care for the “martini crowd,” which often socializes inside the club level’s renovated mezzanine instead of watching the game. Wood said there are plenty of club-level ticket holders who simply stay home. During this past Sunday’s home game against the Oakland Raiders, there were hundreds of empty club seats, mostly behind each end zone.

Wood said he received an e-mail from the Chiefs recently, offering discounts and promises of a better experience in the future. Wood, whose two club-level seats cost him $4,500 this season, said he’ll continue to buy season tickets, which he has done since 2003, but he’s finished with the club level.

“I know they’re trying to make a great experience and be on par with what stadiums offer in the NFL,” he said. “But it’s kind of out of our element. We’re beer-drinker, blue-collar.

“They’ve priced themselves out of that market. Honestly, I can’t afford to sit where I’m sitting.”

Wood said that, even this season, he’s had trouble finding friends to join him at games — even if he gives them the ticket — because there are too many reasons these days to stay home.

Televised football is better than ever, parking is at least $22 per vehicle, and besides, it gets cold this time of year. Wood said he suspected cold temperatures, an outdoor stadium, and a home schedule that lacked marquee teams as reasons why — even with the Chiefs in a division-title race — Arrowhead had smaller crowds at its final five regular-season games than all but one contest the previous three seasons. The 2009 season’s home finale against Cleveland had an announced attendance of 53,315 — or more than 26,000 empty seats.

Arrowhead wasn’t that bare this season, but throughout the regular season, there was an average of 8,744 empty seats at each game, according to announced attendance. There have twice been at least 10,000 vacant seats, when the Chiefs played the Arizona Cardinals in November and, 10 days ago, the Tennessee Titans.

Imperfect as the situation has been, Donovan said, he believes Arrowhead has again emerged as one of the NFL’s home-field advantages. Coach Todd Haley said as much last week, adding that he thinks that more victories will attract greater crowds and higher capacity percentages. The Chiefs went 7-1 at Arrowhead this season, a year after winning only once at home.

“We had to do our part,” Haley said last Thursday, “and I feel like we’re doing some of that.”

Donovan said the team remains optimistic that much of the work, on the field and off, has been done to ensure that Arrowhead will feature that loud, gritty atmosphere it boasted during better times — and there was at least a glimpse of that this season, when the Chiefs began the year by shocking the Chargers on national television with more than 71,000 in attendance.

“Still a lot to do. Still a lot to learn. But we think we’re getting a lot better,” Donovan said. “The economy is what it is, and people are making hard choices. What we’re trying to do is deliver value, on the field and off. Our hope is that we’ve made some progress.”

JD10367
01-05-2011, 06:06 AM
"During its eight home games, the Chiefs had the lowest attendance by capacity percentage among the 12 teams that reached the NFL playoffs. According to this season’s announced attendance figures, Arrowhead’s crowds filled an average of 88.6 percent of its 76,416-seat capacity — far less than the next-lowest playoff team, the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans filled Qwest Field to an average of 93 percent capacity. And the Seahawks finished 7-9 and became the first franchise in league history to reach the postseason with a losing record."

Well, THAT'S an utterly bullshit way to spin something to your favor (in this case, making the Chiefs look bad). That's 66,704 people per game, in an area that I woult think is nowhere near as densely-populated as other football regions. For example, Gillette Stadium by comparison holds 68,756... only 2,000 more than what Arrowhead has averaged. And yet Gillette has a metro area that's gotta be between 10 and 15 million people within an hour's drive, I'd think.

pr_capone
01-05-2011, 06:06 AM
They would be selling more tickets if the HC wouldn't flip off the fans.

memyselfI
01-05-2011, 06:13 AM
Sounds to me like this is a warning that the public will be on the hook for the revenue the team did not achieve. Which means season ticket holders actually pay twice.

As far as the article's points, ever since I got my 55" plasma I have had NO desire to attend a game at Arrowhead. I don't think the experience is worth the cost.

pr_capone
01-05-2011, 06:17 AM
Sounds to me like this is a warning that the public will be on the hook for the revenue the team did not achieve. Which means season ticket holders actually pay twice.

As far as the article's points, ever since I got my 55" plasma I have had NO desire to attend a game at Arrowhead. I don't think the experience is worth the cost.

Plus you are within punching distance of your kids. :D

Hows the finger?

memyselfI
01-05-2011, 06:18 AM
Plus you are within punching distance of your kids. :D

Hows the finger?

LOL. Not broken though my bank account now IS. :doh!:

Old Dog
01-05-2011, 07:34 AM
Yep, the 4th largest stadium in one of the smallest markets will do that if you want to play the % game

Dragonocho
01-05-2011, 08:13 AM
good point

Deberg_1990
01-05-2011, 08:31 AM
If only you Jackson County guys would have voted for that Rolling roof, attendence would be better!

penchief
01-05-2011, 08:34 AM
They would be selling more tickets if the HC wouldn't flip off the fans.

alledgedly...

Agent V
01-05-2011, 08:41 AM
"During its eight home games, the Chiefs had the lowest attendance by capacity percentage among the 12 teams that reached the NFL playoffs. According to this season’s announced attendance figures, Arrowhead’s crowds filled an average of 88.6 percent of its 76,416-seat capacity — far less than the next-lowest playoff team, the Seattle Seahawks, whose fans filled Qwest Field to an average of 93 percent capacity. And the Seahawks finished 7-9 and became the first franchise in league history to reach the postseason with a losing record."

Well, THAT'S an utterly bullshit way to spin something to your favor (in this case, making the Chiefs look bad). That's 66,704 people per game, in an area that I woult think is nowhere near as densely-populated as other football regions. For example, Gillette Stadium by comparison holds 68,756... only 2,000 more than what Arrowhead has averaged. And yet Gillette has a metro area that's gotta be between 10 and 15 million people within an hour's drive, I'd think.

Exactly. The number of consecutive sellouts all those years is actually an extraordinary statistic considering the size of the stadium versus the size of the market. It'll take a few successful seasons to reach that level of consistent attendance again.

The Chiefs cover a ton of ground in the midwest in terms of fans and their locations. My family drives just four hours to get to the stadium; others come from Nebraska, Oklahoma, across Missouri, all over Kansas, etc. Once they get that long-range draw back, they can reach '90s/early 2000s attendance.

...I think.

JohnnyV13
01-05-2011, 09:52 AM
I don't understand why the stupid jackson county voters turned down the roof. They were going to tax travellers staying in kc, not local taxpayers. And, the nfl guarenteed a sb, which would have pumped more money into the kc economy than the stadium cost. No wonder the coasts think we're a bunch of ignorant hayseeds.

J Diddy
01-05-2011, 10:35 AM
They would be selling more tickets if the HC wouldn't flip off the fans.


Shoot that'd be worth the cost of seeing live...

JD10367
01-05-2011, 11:03 AM
The Chiefs cover a ton of ground in the midwest in terms of fans and their locations. My family drives just four hours to get to the stadium; others come from Nebraska, Oklahoma, across Missouri, all over Kansas, etc. Once they get that long-range draw back, they can reach '90s/early 2000s attendance.

...I think.

And this only reinforces the point. Up here, in four hours, you can leave Boston, drive through Rhode Island and Connecticut, hit New York City and, if the traffic's right, be halfway through New Jersey.

Old Dog
01-05-2011, 11:12 AM
Once they get that long-range draw back, they can reach '90s/early 2000s attendance.

...I think.
I wonder if they ever will. This may be a bit out there, but it's obvious that it's already expensive to go to a game with tickets, parking and concessions. Gas prices aren't helping a whole heck of a lot either and may be the final straw that breaks the camels back (or wallet in this case).
A simple 300 mile round trip (certainly not uncommon) in a vehicle that nets 20 MPG and you're looking at nearly another $50 to go to a game. When one starts doing the math, I wonder if we will ever see Arrowhead as it used to be.

GoHuge
01-05-2011, 12:17 PM
Well if the chief's have a real issue with the percentage of empty seats then fans have an equal, if not bigger bitch, about how the Chiefs spend their money in regards to percentage/salary cap when one was in place. Would be like the Royals bitching about not having a top 10 turn out.

ChiefGator
01-05-2011, 04:53 PM
Well if the chief's have a real issue with the percentage of empty seats then fans have an equal, if not bigger bitch, about how the Chiefs spend their money in regards to percentage/salary cap when one was in place. Would be like the Royals bitching about not having a top 10 turn out.

I'm not sure you can really draw a correlation between speding money in regards to the salary cap and success.

Guru
01-05-2011, 05:10 PM
Arrowhead is never going to fill the club level again at the current prices. They at least need to change those seats to red so it doesn't stand out as much.