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Staying at Arrowhead is Problematic for Chiefs

With the Kansas City Royals set to announce their new location at seasons end, the Kansas City Chiefs are pondering their next stadium play as well. We know the MLB team will get a shiny new ballpark, but the Chiefs seem to be content to upgrade Arrowhead.  Is that wise?

If Patrick Mahomes had not arrived six years ago in Kansas City, it’s doubtful the Chiefs would be in the position they are today regarding the next step regarding their aging stadium.  Team President, Mark Donovan, indicated he thinks Arrowhead can be upgraded. However, per the KC Star, the improved Arrowhead would not include a dome roof.

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To me, that makes zero sense.

Why spend $1.5B to upgrade a stadium that has good bones, and sentimentality with a new stadium on the same grounds for a billion more?  The Chiefs valuation is already near $4 billion which would only increase with a new cathedral for Mahomes and the Chiefs fans.

The main issue I have with updating Arrowhead has to do with math. No not dollars and cents but building a stadium that Mahomes can enjoy success while still in his prime. If that’s the case, why not build east of Arrowhead now, then tear down Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium around the same time when the new domed stadium is ready?

I get the sentimentality of Arrowhead, and what that must mean to Clark Hunt, who for the first time in his life, will watch over the franchise with both parents gone.  The first lady of the NFL, Norma Hunt, passed away earlier this year. Both she and her late husband, Lamar Hunt, cherished Arrowhead, and I suspect neither wants the shrine of the franchise to become rubble.

Yet, if the Chiefs decide to update Arrowhead, what happens if they uncover structural items that could not be foreseen? That could push costs even higher. Further, based on the current age of the stadium, perhaps Kansas City can get another 20-25 years.

So that begs the question again?  Why not just build new for a half billion more??

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I’m not going to get into the money side, because, between the state of Missouri, taxpayers, and the Hunt family fortunes, the funds will be available no matter which direction Clark Hunt ultimately decides to go.

Then again, if Kansas City Kansas ups its offer to relocate the team to the Oz side of the border, and from all accounts they have had discussions with the Chiefs recently, why not move across the state line? 

The Legends area is a perfect fit for a new stadium, one with a dome, that can host Super Bowls and Final Fours. The Chiefs are already trying to maximize Arrowhead with concerts. The draw of Arrowhead attracted two nights of Taylor Swift this summer, that from all accounts, was a financial windfall for the Chiefs.

So why not push that envelope further and build a domed stadium that could increase the revenue at a location that passes out Star Bonds like they’re free candy bars? Further, if the Chiefs wanted to build a new hall of fame, an updated practice facility, tied directly to casinos with restaurants, and build a mini entertainment addition to their dome stadium, they could easily recoup their personal costs with PSLs.

I understand Arrowhead is special, but the Chiefs only have Mahomes for so long. Nobody can guarantee he’ll play as long as, Tom Brady, or as short as, Andrew Luck.  If it’s somewhere in the middle, an open-air Arrowhead doesn’t fit the narrative.

Don’t get me wrong I love winter football games, and yes, I hate sitting in the cold, but there is an intimacy at Arrowhead that a dome stadium will likely never deliver. Still, sentimentality can’t be the only reason to renovate.

The decision ahead is not an easy one, and because the 2026 World Cup games will be played at Arrowhead, the stadium must expand the size of the field and install retractable seats in the lower bowl. Granted the Chiefs don’t have to foot that bill, but they need to deal with the aftermath of such a labor-intensive conversion. Further, it can’t interrupt KC’s 2026 season.

A way around that would be to break ground in 2024 or 2025 on a new stadium either at the Sports Complex or Kansas City Kansas.  Worst case scenario the Chiefs would be in their shiny new toy in 2027 or 2028.

The NFL has stated they’ll do another Winter Super Bowl, and Kansas City will likely get the nod. But why not be in the rotation every six to seven years? The Hunt family has something they’ve never had before in Mahomes. Why not build a stadium like what the Raiders have in Las Vegas?

At this stage, nobody knows what the Chiefs will ultimately do, and the thought is likelier the team stays put at Arrowhead and attempts to add to her mystique, but in my view, it’s a short-term solution that will disrupt the fan experience, much like it did during the last renovation.

Luckily the best architectural firms are in Kansas City, and I trust, they’ll figure out the right options once the Hunt family makes their final decision.

For now, enjoy the Mahomes era at Arrowhead, and hope whatever happens once the Royals make their plans known in September, the Chiefs make the right decision during his golden years, and build a new cathedral as close to Arrowhead as they can.

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