A surprising 10-win season and a division title re-established the Kansas City Chiefs as a regular contender in the AFC West. But the Chiefs will have to do more than produce just one winning campaign in order to lure fans back after the worst stretch in franchise history.
The Chiefs, which will host the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC Wild Card game Sunday, January 9, officially sold out every home game this season at Arrowhead Stadium, which hosted 151 straight sellouts from 1991 through the final game of the 2009 season. Technically, though, the Chiefs didn’t come close to filling Arrowhead every time out: The Kansas City Star reported this week that the Chiefs played to 88.6 percent capacity at 76,416-seat Arrowhead, the lowest figure among the 12 NFL playoff teams, and that six of the Chiefs’ eight games were played to fewer than 90 percent capacity.
Clearly, the bruises from the last three seasons still linger. The Chiefs, which recorded a winning season 14 times in 18 years and made the playoffs nine times from 1989 through 2006, went just 10-38 from 2007 through 2009 and lost at least 10 games every time, the first time ever they’d lost double-digit games in three straight years.
Add into the equation a still-wounded economy — as well as the tendency of fans to invest in an emerging team after a winning season instead of during it — and the Chiefs admit they aren’t surprised there are still empty seats at Arrowhead Stadium.
“The economy is what it is and people are making hard choices,” Chiefs chief operating officer Mark Donovan told the Star. “What we’re trying to do is deliver value, on the field and off. Our hope is that we’ve made some progress.”
Donovan said the Chiefs have been encouraged by a recent surge in 2011 season ticket sales. He told the Star the Chiefs sold more season tickets in the week prior to the season finale against the Oakland Raiders last week than they did in all of 2009. The Chiefs have also sold all their non-club seats to the playoff game against the Ravens.
“Success on the field will generate season tickets for the next season,” Donovan told the Star, who didn’t reveal how many tickets the Chiefs have sold for 2011. “That’s what we’re seeing and our fans have responded.”
They haven’t yet responded by buying the priciest seats, though. A Ticketmaster.com search this afternoon, Friday. January 7, revealed two tickets available for club level section 227 priced at $339.50 apiece. And like with this weekend’s playoff tickets, the least expensive season tickets for next year are the ones selling the fastest.
The Chiefs are hoping to keep their current club level ticket holders in the fold by offering them the opportunity to commit to the seats for three years in exchange for a discount. Club level seats will rise to $240 next year, but those who re-up for three years will still pay this year’s price of $225.