Arrowhead renovations won't impede fans

Wednesday the Chiefs held a press conference to give the media and the public an update on the renovations to Arrowhead Stadium. Senior Vice President of Administration Bill Newman reported that despite the weather, everything is going as planned.

"The cold weather this winter and the rains this spring have posed some challenges for the construction this year, as you can imagine; however, the dedication of our crews has us on time and hopefully on budget," said Newman. "We will be ready to have fans in here on the 16th of August when we kick off preseason."

The Chiefs first home preseason game pits them against the Arizona Cardinals, and while the stadium will technically be ready for the upcoming season, it will not be what Chiefs fans are used to.

As it stands, the stadium is almost unrecognizable from the outside. There is rubble everywhere, and the columns that will support the new seven-story plaza on the south side are barely erect. The permanent ticket booths are closed, so fans will now have to buy tickets out of one of two trailers on the North and South sides of the Stadium.

Chiefs President Carl Peterson assured the media that such inconveniences will be minimal, however.

"We're going to continue to play all football games here," said Peterson. "I think we'll facilitate our fans to make it as convenient as possible...The game day at Arrowhead is going to continue. We're going to continue to make it, and try to make it, the best one in all the National Football League...I think we're going to be able to facilitate all of our fans and tailgaters, which is obviously very, very important."

How will the renovations affect your Arrowhead experience in 2008? According to Newman, once you enter the stadium, they won't, as the concourses remain essentially unchanged and there will be no extra restrooms or concession stands. But the Chiefs said there shouldn't be any fewer, either.

"Once fans enter into the bowl they should really experience very little in terms of changes in the inside of the bowl," said Newman. "The bulk of all construction is centered on the exterior of the stadium."

One problem fans may encounter before they even reach the Truman Sports Complex resides on Raytown Road. The work on an uncompleted bridge-construction project in that area may run into the fall.

"This does not impede entrance into gate four, which is off Raytown Road," said Newman. "However, it's not going to be a thru street, and we're not sure how long that's going to be."

Considering all the hassle and inconvenience that will be involved in the stadium renovations, it will be well worth it. There is a video available online at kcchiefs.com that provides a tour of the amenities to be available at the new Arrowhead.

They include concourses more than double the size of the status quo, 80 percent more restrooms, 50 percent more concessions, a 360-degree, enclosed club level, new suites, new bars, a Hall of Honor, a memorial for the late Lamar Hunt, reflecting pools, LED screens, and a 360-degree ribbon screen. The project is to be completed by fall 2010.

Will all these amenities affect ticket prices?

"Certainly, with the club seats it will," said Peterson. "There's no question about that, that's the premium area. Those people in the club seats will be affected, and that's about a little less than 10 percent of our capacity."

However, most fans appear receptive to such price increases. Newman said the Chiefs have contacted about 70 percent of the season ticket holders in the affected area, and of those contacted, 85 percent have agreed with the new plans. The Chiefs are relocating fans who disagree.

Another issue some fans have disagreed with in the past is the selling of the naming rights to Arrowhead Stadium. Wednesday the Chiefs announced they are looking for a sponsor and believe there are plenty of companies that would be interested. They will, however, attempt to keep the word ‘Arrowhead' as part of the stadium's name.

"This is something that Mr. Hunt wanted, the Hunt family," said Peterson. "I think it only makes sense. A reason for the renovation of this great facility, rather than razing it and building a new one, was because of the history and legacy of Arrowhead."

Another of Hunt's wishes was to put a rolling roof over his stadium. That bill, which would have brought a Super Bowl to Kansas City in 2012, failed to pass when renovations were approved months ago, but Peterson said the Chiefs have not abandoned the possibility of adding a roof in the future.

Newman dismissed the idea that a naming rights sponsor could help pay for the rolling roof, however, saying such a project would need to be a joint venture between the Royals and the Chiefs.

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