It’s a special moment.
With Arrowhead Stadium full to the brim and the Star Spangled Banner coming to a close, as that last phrase is sung and then that one last word… CHIEFS… is called out with every letter of the word exaggerated… except the letter I, fittingly so. For that moment is about “US”… not… “I”. Unless you have ever been there and experienced that moment you’ll never understand how it is made of greatness.
It is also one of those transcendent moments in the sporting experience for a fan, aside from winning a championship. It is a real fireworks moment without the fireworks.
As a kid growing up outside of Los Angeles I had the fortune of cheering for some great Dodger baseball teams and UCLA Bruin basketball teams that brought many thrills and championships. My father took me to some of those games and although the L.A. Rams never won a championship I probably enjoyed those games more than any others. There’s something rousing and extraordinary about a football crowd. Maybe it’s just me.
The Kansas City football crowd is distinctive though. It reflects the city. The state. The mid-west. It is a loyal fan base which remains true to the Lamar Hunt heritage. Not that we can’t be raucous but, it will never be the dawg pound or the black hole. And we won’t ever want it to be either.
In the 1970′s when I moved to Kansas City and had the chance to begin attending Chiefs games I was often awed by the closed in arena feel of Arrowhead Stadium. Because it’s a completely enclosed oval there’s a hands around the campfire feel to it that seems to bind you to every single other fan in the stadium. At Arrowhead you feel like everyone is extended family. So when you sing, “and the HOME of the Chiefs,” you really feel like you’re home.
My father was an acoustical engineer and his company assisted major corporations with projects all around the world… including designing a new sound system for Yankee Stadium when it was refurbished in the 1970s. He and his company were frequently called upon by operators of major auditoriums and arenas to trouble-shoot their acoustics’ problems. My father would often say that any round, oval or circular structure was a nightmare to solve because of the increased reverberation (reflective sound and echoes). I think about that every Chiefs game day at Arrowhead Stadium and I thank the laws of physics for giving the best 12th man in football a little extra thump.
I don’t know if the original architects of Arrowhead meant for that to occur but, it certainly does lend to the legend a sense experience that no other stadium I have known can deliver.
Another element that makes singing the “home of the Chiefs” a unique experience is tailgating. How are they related? Tailgating is like an excited little kid shopping for fireworks the day before the 4th of July. He knows one comes before the other and the first increases the excitement of the last. By the time Chief’s Nation uniformly chants the word… Chiefs… more than half a day of delicious and delirious anticipation has gone down. Literally and figuratively.
A lot of people think football is religion. I don’t think that. Religion is religion. Football is just a very fun game, that a lot of us like follow on Sundays. Some teams do it better than others and some stadiums do it even better yet. That would be Arrowhead Stadium and the Kansas City faithful. The home of the Chiefs!