Team Chairman Clark Hunt led local sports media members on a tour of the stadium to showcase its $375 million facelift, and the six-year planning and construction process truly showed its worth.
In all honesty, it's like an entirely new stadium. Even if we've seen glimpses of it evolving over the past couple seasons, the new Arrowhead is truly like a new structure.
The most impressive addition to the facility was the Horizon Level, where fans can enjoy the game by overlooking the stadium in an open-air environment. Hunt praised the new area for fans to enjoy the same, saying, "I wouldn't be surprised if somebody caught me up here during the day." It blends both a premier experience for all fans to enjoy the Chiefs' top-flight hospitality, and also still be exposed to the elements in which football is played, whether it's the sweltering summer heat or bitter winter cold.
HD TV's surround the 40 foot spacious concourse areas for fans.
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In the same structure as the horizon level is what the Chiefs called the Penthouse Suite, which gives fans the same view as the media and a great view across the landscape. On that same level is accommodation for at least 200 members of the media. As Hunt acknowledged, the press box was doubled in size in order to accommodate journalists for events such as future Big 12 games or championships, World Cup games, and even a Super Bowl.
About the stadium's ability to host a future Super Bowl, Hunt mentioned that the recent awarding of Super Bowl XLVIII to the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey was "a good move for the league." When asked if the new Arrowhead could be put into contention to host a future Super Bowl, Hunt said that the team will "certainly get on the list."
The former press box now houses the Signature Suites, all of which have been named after the team's Pro Football Hall of Famers, and are some of the biggest at any NFL stadium. The Hunt's private suite was still under construction at the time of the tour, but will be completed in the coming weeks.
The new stadium features many reminders of the team's proud history. Fans entering the stadium will encounter Founder's Plaza -- it features nearly 5,400 customized bricks in which fans were asked to contribute, an engraving of the famous "65 Toss Power Trap" play which helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV, and eight fountains symbolizing the founding teams of the American Football League. A statue of Lamar Hunt at Founder's Plaza will be unveiled next week in its own ceremony.
Founder's Plaza leads directly into a members-only upscale sports bar called the Founder's Club, which is ideal for game-days as well as private events. Members will be able to visit with the Chiefs' Ambassadors and former players at the Founder's Club.
Fans will love the Founders Sports Bar located on the lower level of the New Arrowhead.
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Similar areas called the Foolish Club (named after the AFL's founding owners) and Club IV (named after Super Bowl IV) serve just about the same purposes.
Fans attending next month's preseason games or the upcoming Kansas City Wizards and Manchester United exhibition soccer game on Sunday may notice some things that have remained the same from years' past, as well as a few minor changes. The green padding which circled the field's sidelines is now red, making the stadium's colors stick out to make it a true "Sea of Red."
The LED ribbon board that was installed last year is still in place, as are two giant HD screens on both sides of the stadium. With the stadium in configuration for a soccer match, we couldn't see if the team will re-adapt its old fully painted red end zones or if the grass will remain plain in order to accommodate easy transition for other events. Hunt acknowledged that plans are for Arrowhead to be used year-round other than Chiefs games.
Hunt took questions from the media after the tour had concluded, in which I had the opportunity to ask him if the team was in discussions to sell naming rights to the stadium. Hunt said that the team was not in discussions to sell rights, but acknowledged that if the team were to do so, the word "Arrowhead" will surely be included in its title.
Overall, Hunt said that he was "thrilled for how the whole stadium turned out" and that his father Lamar would feel just the same.
Wrapping up his press conference with the media, Clark recalled a story in which his father was at an upscale dinner when the question arose of where the person's favorite place on earth was. After answers from other people included the likes of upscale areas such as in France or California, Lamar simply stated with a serious tone: Arrowhead Stadium.
I could certainly see why, and with an even more beautiful sight after the renovations, Chiefs fans would probably agree once they see this place next month with their own eyes.