SBD/November 19, 2012/Franchises

Large Contingent Of Chiefs Fans Wear Black To Game To Protest Team's Struggles

Approximately 25,000 Chiefs fans wore black to yesterday's game
Sparked by a grassroots movement "called Save Our Chiefs, fed-up fans ... were encouraged to wear black" during Sunday's game against the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium, according to Tod Palmer of the K.C. STAR. Roughly 25,000 fans wore black to the game, which was "entirely appropriate attire for what turned out to be a lifeless 28-6 loss." The Chiefs "declined to comment as an organization, but the prevalence of protesting fans caught the attention of the players" (K.C. STAR, 11/19). In K.C., Sangeeta Shastry noted sales of Chiefs merchandise bearing the team's logo are "in a slump." Local businesses say fan frustration is "putting a strain on those who depend on the Chiefs brand." Overland Park-based merchandise and ticket store Ace Sports Owner Hal Wagner said, "It's never been this bad." Kansas-based merchandiser Rally House Marketing Dir Andrea Carroll said that sales which started out strong at the beginning of the season now are "weaker than they were last year." Palmer noted the Chiefs' business partners are also "feeling and hearing the frustration." Hy-Vee, which serves as the Chiefs' official grocery sponsor, "sells licensed merchandise under its agreement with the team, usually in a corner of the store that's packed with red and gold." Hy-Vee Assistant VP/Media Relations Ruth Comer said that stores have "seen a drop in sales this year, but it's too early to place the blame entirely on fan desolation." Comer added, "We're not sure what to attribute that to -- if it's to how the season is going or the economy or if it's a typical seasonal fluctuation." Regardless, the Chief's losing record is not "causing Hy-Vee to rethink its deal." Metcalf Bank Senior VP Joyce Stacer, whose company is the Chief's official bank, said, "We hear the disappointment, but there still is support here. We still think that it is a community-minded thing" (K.C. STAR, 11/17).

FAN FRUSTRATION: Also in K.C., Sam Mellinger writes if the Chiefs can "land like an anvil at the bottom of the NFL in year four of a process that was supposed to be competing for the division championship, then what, exactly, could it possibly take for major changes?" Arrowhead Stadium "used to be one of the toughest places in the NFL to play." Now, fans are "literally dressing for a funeral." Chiefs officials -- "most notably" Owner Clark Hunt -- have been "privately concerned about a growing fan resentment for some time now." Hunt "continues to meet with angry fans, partly to gather information to help diagnose the problem." Until now, team execs "held a stubborn belief that the loudest dissent came from a vocal minority, but in a season full of milestone losses, here comes one more: Arrowhead split between fans dressed in blacks, fans dressed in other colors and empty seats." If this does not "push Hunt to make major changes in the coming weeks, then it's fair to wonder what could."  The Chiefs are "so bad it's turning one of the league's most loyal and passionate fan bases into its most angry and outwardly disrespectful" (K.C. STAR, 11/19). 
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