Kansas City Chiefs unveil divisive new tailgating policy at Arrowhead Stadium
By Britt Zank
The Kansas City Chiefs are implementing a divisive new tailgating policy for the 2018 season that has some fans upset.
Kansas City Chiefs’ president Mark Donovan announced on August 27 that the team is instituting a new tailgate policy. The rule states that once a game kicks off, fans either need to go to their seats inside the stadium or they must leave the parking lot. Per Donovan, this policy follows a best practice recommendation from the NFL, and will be phased in throughout the season.
The “phase in” part of the statement means it will not be a hard and fast rule when the Green Bay Packers come to town on Thursday night. Security will begin to inform people who continue to tailgate after kick off of the new rule but won’t enforce it now. Likely by the end of the season and for sure next season, it will be a set-in-stone rule and people will be kicked out of the parking lot.
According to Donovan this rule is being made for safety purposes. Those in favor of the rule would also argue that it will help with the parking situation in Arrowhead which the Chiefs have turned into a game day disaster for anyone trying to get into the stadium. The theory is there are a couple thousand people who go to the stadium to tailgate, and the hope among proponents of the rule is it keeps these people at home, freeing up the space for those with tickets to the game.
In theory it is easy to understand the reasons and hopes for improvements the new rule would bring. The Chiefs have turned the parking lot situation at the Truman Sports Complex into a clown show. I myself arrived at the gates to enter the stadium for a noon kick-off at 9:30am for a game last season and I didn’t get to a parking spot until 11:45am. I had to sprint into the stadium to make it to my seat for the kickoff and that is unacceptable, especially when you are asking fans to pay upwards of $60 to park.
If there are a thousand or more cars trying to get into the stadium to tailgate, maybe this speeds up the parking process and gives the attendants more room to work with. The other side of this is parking lot safety, which became a major issue five years ago when a fan was killed in the parking lot during a game. Donovan even cited this case as being a factor in the decision to install the new rule.
The parking lot at the Truman Sports Complex is massive and it would be nearly impossible to staff enough security to do it justice. With all the drinking going on during tailgates, it’s not a surprise there have been many fights and accidents that have occurred during games. Banning people from the parking lot during games should lower this security risk.
It’s easy to see why the Chiefs think this new rule is valid with good intentions behind it. However, I find it hard to believe the Chiefs are doing this for any other reason other than to not face another lawsuit like the one they settled with the familiar of the aforementioned fan who died. It is an overreaction to a situation which the team had no control over and this new rule does nothing to prevent from happening again.
When you get 75,000 to 80,000 people in one area with a mix of sports, alcohol and competition, there will always be an incident. I do agree this can lower the odds some, but it won’t stop the next fight from happening and it won’t stop the next family from suing if something major happens. This move comes across as nothing more than a way to look good for the next lawsuit that you’ve at least done something.
The parking lot disaster won’t be fixed by this either. The issue with the parking lot isn’t the number of spaces, it’s the way the team handles getting people into the stadium. Rather than open every gate and get people inside the parking lot as fast as possible, they take the Wal-Mart approach and only open a couple of gates at a time. This bottlenecks the entire complex and turns a complicated situation into a flat out disaster.
In the end this new rule will only affect a fraction of the Chiefs Kingdom as most people who go to the game on Sunday will be going into the game. But that fraction is a loyal and vocal bunch that I doubt will go quietly into the night. It’s another example of the Chiefs having a complete disconnect from their fan base. The Chiefs Kingdom is not your average NFL fan base; league wide recommendations rarely fit the way we do things here in Kansas City.
Tailgating in Kansas City is not just something fans do before a game. Tailgating is a way of life in Kansas City and this rule hampers that way of life for some people. I don’t know if the Chiefs have put much thought into how easy this rule will be to enforce nor the backlash they will receive from it. It just appears to be another example of the Chiefs being tone deaf to not only their fans in general, but to some of their most loyal and hardcore fans.