In their very first game at Arrowhead Stadium, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated their cross-state rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, 24-14. While Lenny Dawson was still taking snaps as the Chiefs quarterback, the real star that night -- August 12, 1972 -- was Arrowhead. The facility was considered among the very best in the National Football League.
Now, 38 years later, Arrowhead is again among the league's elites, thanks to renovations made possible through Jackson County's voters and the Chiefs' owners, the Hunt family. Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders joined Clark Hunt, son of the Chiefs' late founder, Lamar Hunt, and United States Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (Missouri 5th District) to commemorate the completion of those renovations -- on time and on budget -- prior to the Chiefs' preseason clash with Philadelphia on Friday (August 27).
"With the renovations of this world class facility, the Hunt family has tapped into what Arrowhead has always been about," said Sanders, "the fans and the game."
The $375 million project to give Arrowhead a "new body," without compromising the stadium's "old soul" features some essential upgrades for the comfort of fans, including wider concourses, more TV monitors, and new restrooms, concession stands and entryways. But there's much more.
Located on the stadium's north side, Founder's Plaza honors Lamar Hunt's visionary formation of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960 and his strong influence on professional football. Hunt coined the phase "Super Bowl" and recommended noting each game with Roman numerals.
The Plaza's eight fountains represent the eight original AFL franchises, including the Dallas Texans who within a year became the Kansas City Chiefs.
When the statue of Lamar Hunt was unveiled outside the Plaza July 30, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "Lamar Hunt's innovative spirit and creative vision helped transform professional football into America's passion. The legacy of the American Football League and Lamar's many contributions are richly preserved at Founder's Plaza."
A 3D diagram of the Chiefs' bread-and-butter play from the 1960s, the "65 Toss Power Trap," is etched on the wall outside Founder's Plaza. Kansas City's Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram called the play throughout the team's Super Bowl IV victory, famously urging his team on: "Just keep matriculatin' the ball down the field, boys."
Hall of Honor
The Chief all-time greats -- Dawson, Stram, Otis Taylor, Buck Buchanan and Derrick Thomas, just to name a few -- have been immortalized in the new Hall of Honor. The 28,000-square-foot facility, located at the south concourse, celebrates not only the Chiefs' history, but also details the founding of the AFL. Among the AFL memorabilia are Lamar Hunt's handwritten notes about his plan to launch the league as an upstart alternative to the long-established NFL.
Of course, the Hall highlights the Chiefs' Super Bowl IV victory -- in what would be the last Super Bowl pitting the AFL and NFL champions against one another prior to the two leagues' merger in 1970. The helmet Dawson wore in that game, a 23-7 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings, is on display.
Chiefs spokesman Darren Adams isn't bashful about his assessment of the Hall of Honor. "This is better than the [Pro Football] Hall of Fame, in my opinion," he said.
'You Gotta Check This Out'
Founder's Plaza and the Hall of Honor pay tribute to football's past. The Chiefs Sports Lab is thoroughly futuristic. In this interactive room, fans can learn about the human body and the impact of eating healthy and exercising regularly.
The lab also includes a "Whack-a-Foe" game that permits kids to beat Oakland Raiders helmets into oblivion.
Jan Havasuee of Independence spoke for many fans when she summed her impressions of the new Arrowhead in an interview with The Examiner, "It took my breath away. Even if you're not a football fan, you gotta check this out."
Sanders noted Arrowhead will be utilized for more than just NFL games.
"This stadium will not only be home to many future Chiefs victories," he said, "but will have the ability to host various events that put Kansas City on a national and international stage."
He added, "I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Hunt family for their leadership on this project. The Chiefs' organization and Jackson County have been great partners for many years, and we look forward to building on that relationship in the years to come."