"The closest to a college atmosphere you can get in the NFL," Chiefs games are "almost a religious experience -- communal chanting, fans slapping each other on the back when times are good and talking each other off the ledge when times are not so good." "From the fans finishing the national anthem with '... and the home of the Chiefs' to the B-2 bomber flyover to the mass cheering from the 'sea of red'-clad fans," football Sundays - or Mondays - have the "feel of an event more than just a game." With a sellout streak that now stretches 16 years, Arrowhead often "sounds like a 777 is taking off right over your head." "After a big play, you literally can't hear someone six inches from you say a word." Others add "they might as well take out the seats because nobody sits down." Chiefs fans "have something different about them" that makes "being in the stands [akin] to be part of a raucous party, and yet, if you are a fan of another team, you are welcome."
7 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (14 oz.)
Beer (14 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"The Chiefs do a great job of incorporating 'local flavor' into the stadium experience, as "Gates BBQ and Boulevard Beer also offer a taste of Kansas City." If you're on the lookout for more traditional stadium fare, "Schmeca's Italian sausages [are] served throughout." But "you need to take out a loan in order to eat at a Chiefs game." With a tailgate the envy of almost every fan in the league, "when you want to eat at Arrowhead, you eat in the parking lot." "Hot dogs and popcorn are an afterthought for the ill-prepared."
6 out of 10
"Getting in and out of Arrowhead on game days is made easy by the fact that it is bordered by two major traffic arteries, I-70 to the north and I-435 to the west." "The commute to the game is relatively light because of the large number of tailgaters who have already been on-site for 3-4 hours." While that allows for a relatively smooth ride for many, it makes for slow "traffic 45 minutes before the gates to the parking lot open." "Multiple entrances to stadium parking" create a fluid "parking flow." "Public buses are a great alternative because they have their own lanes once they get close to the stadium and they drop you off right next to the entrance." For those a bit more adventurous, try the "secret back way in -- take the left off Volker to Coal Mine Road (by LC's BBQ) and drive right to the stadium -- that everyone knows about, but it's never busy." No special maneuvers will speed you out of a parking lot that "backs up for at least 30 minutes following the game" and can leave one "stuck for hours."
5 out of 10
"Tailgating is the most important social event of each weekend during the football season." "Everyone brings their grills and smokers, and by 9 a.m., the sky is covered in a thin layer of barbecue-flavored smoke." A "special section of the parking lot is reserved for those wanting to prepare their RVs/campers/etc. up to 48 hours prior to kickoff." Some even arrive in "custom-made smoking vehicles that are basically trucks outfitted with smokers." "Brisket, ribs, chicken" and a "pig on a spit" -- "hardcore stuff only" -- fill a scene where you "can't find a skinny guy cookin' a dog." "You can find any kind of meat [even fish] plus chilis, soups and breakfast." K.C. tailgating "turns a three-hour game into a six-hour event" where "people who don't have tickets will go and set up a big screen TV in the parking lot just to have the crowd noise in the background." As with any "family reunion of 80,000 who all happened to bring their own grills," there is "more than a fair share of drinking," but "people are nice regardless of who you are rooting for and more than likely will offer" a "steak and a beer" if you just walk up and talk to people." After all, "it's the best barbecue city in America -- think we screw around at a tailgate?"
10 out of 10
Larry Johnson :: G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Larry Johnson (RB), Tony Gonzalez (TE), Dwayne Bowe (WR)
5 out of 10
Arrowhead is an "older stadium, but it still holds up pretty well." "The form-follows-function construction of the bowl-type design" makes for "great sightlines throughout the stadium," and "acoustically it is the loudest stadium" many "have ever been in." "Sound just swarms to the center of the field." The "classic professional football locale" only goes so far, though. The fašade is "a concrete bunker;" the "cheap seats require you to wear a parachute" and "watch the game via the Hubble telescope;" and "the bathrooms look like they've come straight from the set of Deadwood." A set of recently passed tax initiatives will usher in "wider concourses, more restrooms and a new Jumbotron" over the nest few sesasons. Still, Arrowhead isn't without its charms, such as the much beloved "Tony DiPardo TD Pack Band in the east end zone, playing jazz and blues." But in the end, the defining feature of this 25-year-old stadium is its lack of a defining feature. "If you're looking for a Build-A-Bear Workshop you are in the wrong place. Our attractions include offense, defense and special teams. What else should a good football stadium include?"
7 out of 10
"Imagine taking a massive, open-field" "at the intersection of two interstates" and building "a HUGE parking lot with a stadium on either side." Paired with the Royals' Kauffman Stadium, Arrowhead is "perfect for tailgating" but a "suburban wasteland" otherwise, with a hotel across the interstate," a "junkyard across another interstate" and a gas station and a Taco Bell across the street to the east. "There really is no neighborhood to speak of."
2 out of 10
If you're in search of bells and whistles Arrowhead isn't for you, not with a structure that dates back to the Nixon administration. But K.C. offers one of the league's best traditional football experiences, from the tailgating smorgasbord to the full-throated support of a team that hasn't reached a conference championship game since 1993. And with prices that are reasonable compared to manhy NFL sites, it's easy to understand the love Chiefs fans have for a team and a stadium a little behind the times but as dependable as the sun.