The Chiefs game experience kicks off by wandering through a sea of red and yellow disciples feasting on BBQ done right. Between the tailgating, red choreography, and general camaraderie, there’s an element of college game day atmosphere other stadiums simply fail at (our fans are so awesome, apparently even San Diego wants a piece). Once you’ve downed a couple Boulevards – or 10 of something less pretentious – you go from parking lot to stadium where 80,000 fans are chanting, “We’re gonna beat the hell out of you, you, you!” Then it gets loud. Arrowhead is part legend, part lore, and affords a litany of anecdotes:
-Constructed in 1972, the stadium is situated partly below ground with a comparatively high seat slope. I call it the Canyon Effect. The Canyon Effect imprisons sound, causing it to bounce and echo while disrupting opposing teams’ concentration. It’s science, and it’s awesome.
-The Acoustical Design Group once used science to measure Arrowhead’s decibel level, which topped out at 116. For reference, a Boeing 727 landing on the runway generates about 106 decibels of noise while three minutes of exposure to 120 decibels causes hearing loss. Awesome.
-The 1991 MNF game against Buffalo featured Jim Kelly’s famed no-huddle offense. The no-huddle lasted one series as Buffalo’s offensive linemen were unable to hear Kelly’s play calls. They went to the huddle the rest of the game, being disoriented into a 33-6 loss (the playoff rematch in Buffalo wasn’t so awesome).
-A bevy of Chiefs fans is far greater than any other team’s followers. This is also science.
NFL changes introduced last month stand to further promote the homefield advantage. Though league rules previously forbid PA announcers from inciting fans to get rowdy, this regulation exists no more. And while this may enhance the experience of fans, other teams probably stand to benefit more than the Chiefs. As mentioned above, Chiefs Nation already knows loud noises are crucial to preventing successful curl routes on 3rd down amid 4th quarter comebacks. Yet when the JumboTron in Arizona or Jacksonville announces the need for racket, those teams will now receive support previously lacking. All opponents will more easily harness the difference-making impact Chiefs fans have set the standard for.
Among the other changes in store for this year courtesy of NFL-mandated upgrades include: wi-fi in every stadium; smartphone apps allowing fans to listen in to players wearing microphones; and the same replay angles being viewed by referees during challenged calls be shown to fans. These moves reflect the challenge of drawing viewers out of their homes and into the stadium, an issue reflected by the fact franchises must now only sell 85 percent of their tickets to avoid a blackout (rather than 100 percent ticket sales).
While my personal game day experience won’t be enriched by wi-fi access in the end zone, these changes represent a solid move to keep up with the enhanced product provided by home entertainment systems. The question is, what else can the Chiefs do to ensure sell-out crowds that keep 116 decibels of smack down in the air? I suggest getting two or three K.C. Wolfs to wander the parking lot before games. Even though I spent my childhood convinced there was a mouse mascot dancing in the end zone, you know damn right I wanted that rodent dropping by my tailgate. Another game day enhancement? Maybe get rid of those red flags on the coach’s hip…
So there you have it, Addicts – the possibility Arrowhead’s unique home field advantage will become more average in exchange for maximum Twitter access. Does it matter? And would it be blasphemous to have more than one K.C. Wolf roaming the lot at one time? Would you party with a rat in the home of the Chiefs?