SBD/January 5, 2011/Franchises

Chiefs Still Playing In Front Of Empty Seats Despite Resurgence

Chiefs tickets selling better for next season after team filled Arrowhead to average 88.6% capacity in '10

The Chiefs have "started winning again, but attendance hasn’t gotten much better" at Arrowhead Stadium, according to a front-page piece by Kent Babb of the K.C. STAR. The Chiefs will host the Ravens in an AFC Wild Card game this weekend after winning the AFC West for the first time in seven seasons, but "attendance at Arrowhead is still suffering from a lingering hangover from those forgettable" years. During the regular season, the Chiefs had the "lowest attendance by capacity percentage among the 12 teams that reached the NFL playoffs." Arrowhead’s crowds filled an average of 88.6% of its 76,416-seat capacity, "far less than the next-lowest playoff team," the Seahawks, whose fans filled Qwest Field to an average of 93% capacity. All but two Chiefs games in '10 were at less than 90% capacity. Chiefs Exec VP & COO Mark Donovan said that the "numbers have been disappointing, but he said that sports attendance is actually influenced more by what happened the previous season, rather than what has happened more recently." Donovan noted that the Chiefs "sold more 2011 season tickets last week, as the regular season closed and the playoffs approached, than were sold throughout all of last year." In addition, "all non-club level seats" for Sunday's game against the Ravens have sold out. Still, Arrowhead "hasn’t been its familiar sea of red this season," and Donovan admitted that the Chiefs have "seen their most significant 2011 sales boosts in the lower-priced regions of the stadium." As a result, the team has "made a push to keep fans who did spring for the stadium’s most expensive seats," offering discounts to "club-level ticket holders who pledge a new three-year commitment." Donovan said, "Still a lot to do. Still a lot to learn. But we think we’re getting a lot better" (K.C. STAR, 1/5).

A LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes under the header, "Empty Seats At Arrowhead No Sign That Fans' Interest In Chiefs Waning." Donovan contends that "every important indicator toward ticket sales is up double digits, and in some cases, triple digits." The Chiefs’ Facebook page "averages more than a million views per day, merchandise sales and Web traffic are up as much as 50 percent and TV ratings continue to be enormous." Chiefs games this season averaged a 38.9 local rating in the K.C. market, up more than 25% from '09 and more than 20% from '06, the "most recent playoff season." Mellinger: "Blame any attendance problem on the Chiefs, not the fans. This was a lousy team for years with substandard fan service, leftover arrogance from the years when the product sold itself. By most accounts, the in-stadium experience is now better and the team is worth paying to watch again" (K.C. STAR, 1/5).

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Franchises, Kansas City Chiefs

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