NFL Moves Chiefs vs. Steelers to Sunday Night at 7:20 p.m. CT

On Friday afternoon, the NFL announced that Sunday's AFC divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers will now kick off at 7:20 p.m. CT.

Here's the NFL's statement, per Brian McCarthy on Twitter.

"Due to public safety concerns in light of the forecasted storm this weekend in the Kansas City area, Sunday's Steelers-Chiefs Divisional Playoff game on NBC has been moved to 7:20 p.m. CT.

Moving the game from the original 12:05 p.m. CT start time will provide local authorities more time to clear roads in the area as the weather is expected to improve throughout Sunday.

The decision to make this time change was made in consultation with state and local officials as well as the Chiefs and Steelers."

Chiefs President Mark Donovan spoke with the media on Friday afternoon regarding the time change:

OPENING STATEMENT:"Alright, happy Red Friday, first and foremost. Obviously, I'm here to talk a little bit more about the league's announcement that the game has been moved from 12:05 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. [CT], and hopefully, give you guys a little bit more insight. I'll hit a couple of the talking points, and then, I'll take your questions. First of all, I'd like to say thank you to the city, the Mayor [Sly James], [Executive Director of the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority] Jim Rowland, the Sports Authority Complex, KCP&L. Various leaders throughout the city from day one have reached out and asked how they could help and how can we make this happen, and helped us to come to this decision. Compliments to the league and their approach. They reached out very early and said, 'Let's talk about contingencies, let's talk about options, let's talk about plans, let's be prepared.' First conversation I had with the league officials, it was 'let's focus on public safety, let's make sure we provide the best conditions for all of the fans.' They had an appreciation that it's about our fans, it's about our teams, it's also about our coaches, our players, it's also about our staff, and the 2,000 or so people who show up to work on behalf of the Chiefs as part of our family on gameday to provide the experience of Arrowhead, and making sure everybody had the safest possible window to commute here, and to enjoy the game and to have the excitement of an event at Arrowhead. I, selfishly, also want to compliment the staff in the building. The Chiefs employees are so dedicated. Monday, we were talking about re-sodding the field, and we already had staff thinking how they could sleep in this building on Saturday night – not because they were concerned as much about the commute, but more that they wanted to make sure that they were here and ready to go, and that's the type of commitment they have to Arrowhead and to our fans."

Q:  Can you walk us through the decision process and how it lead you to choose this route?

DONOVAN: "Yeah, so, I think I talked on Monday about looking at the weather as it related to re-sodding the field. So, we were looking at it that far back – looking at what could be possibly out there. The first couple conversations we had with the local experts, the city, the state and local experts here about what we were looking at. Through that process, we clearly saw what we saw, right? This is a real storm and has the potential to be pretty damaging, and then, we started looking at our options. The league got involved Tuesday and Wednesday. We had a lot of conversations about contingencies then. I spoke to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] this morning. His first line to me was, 'How do we make this a safe environment for everyone?' Then, 'what are the best options and what is the best window?' I should also say that we spoke to the Steelers. We are fierce competitors, but we're also partners. So, their cooperation has been a big help. We've actually reached out to see if they needed anything in their travels and while they're here. It's really a team effort, a lot of cooperation and a lot of communication." 

Q:  So, when you talked to the Commissioner's office, did the Chiefs recommend to them the schedule change or did that come from New York?

DONOVAN: "We talked about all the options. We talked about the various factors that have to play into making the decision. The way the league works, it's the Commissioner's [Roger Goodell] decision. The league office tells us when we're going to play. So, we would looked at all the options. We talked a lot about weather. We talked a lot about what the experts were telling us. As many of you know, it's changed so much the last few days that we just wanted to make sure we had the most up-to-date information. At the same time, as part of that conversation, we talked about the importance of making the decision quickly so we could prepare and get ready. Not only for us, our employees, the folks that are coming in, our fans, but also, as it affects the Steelers and their travel."

Q:Did you make a recommendation to New York?

DONOVAN:"We didn't have to make a recommendation. We sort of came to the conclusion together. They asked us for the information, we provided the information and they told us, 'this is where we're going.'"

Q:Were you prepared to make the recommendation to move the game?

DONOVAN:"Absolutely. The best thing for us, and we looked at the weather, is that we came to the exact same conclusion the league did."

Q:The game is already backed up to a night game. Are there any other contingencies just in case? 

DONOVAN:"The answer to that is the same contingencies that play into any game. During preseason games if we get lightning storms, there are contingencies as it relates to real-time. If you look at the weather, if you look at the patterns and the information we've been provided by the experts, this is the best window to not only play the game, but to commute to and from the game."

Q:With the parking lots opening up at 2 p.m., does it have to be a set number of hours to get everyone into the stadium?

DONOVAN:"Yeah, thank you. I should have hit that on the front end. Just to announce to everybody, the parking gates and times do change obviously, with the start of the game moving back. Open park, which we've talked about before, will be from 2-3 p.m. Scout Investment Club Level, the Founder's Club and the Draft Room will open at 4 p.m. All stadium gates will open at 5 p.m. We did factor that into the weather forecasts. We looked at the forecast, again it keeps changing, but based on the latest information we were provided, that gives us the best chance to get people here in a safe way. On the way out, based on the forecast today, it's actually going to be warmer at the end of the game. So we expect the roads to be even safer."

Q:What was Andy Reid's reaction when you told him about the time change?

DONOVAN:"Conversations with Coach [Andy Reid], it's a little bit of a balance. We talk a lot about the structure here and trust. The balance for me is the mantra Andy has which is 'eliminating distractions.' We don't want to be talking to Coach about weather forecasts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So starting Wednesday evening at about 7 or 8 o'clock at night, I'll just roll into his office and say, 'Alright here's where we are, here's what's going on, here are our plans, here's what could change and here's the communication I'm having with the league.' I think that goes with the trust factor too. Those are short meetings. He kind of says, 'Okay. Make the best decision for us, let us know what they decide and let's go.' It's been pretty consistent but not that frequent. The same goes with John [Dorsey], same with Clark [Hunt]. We got to a decision point from the league, had a communication with Coach right after practice and he communicated that to the team."

Q:What's the procedure for getting the stadium and the parking lots ready for a crowd starting by 2 p.m.?

DONOVAN:"We have already started pretreating. We work – and this is Jackson County Sports Authority, Jim Rowland and his team – this is also our outside vendors and also our stadium team. You figure we're prepping the entire complex, the entrance ways, the parking lots and we're preparing the inside of the stadium. Field-wise: it's covered and heated, the sod is laid and we're in good shape there. You've got to treat the stands for ice. Brine and salt are among the various things that we'll use to make sure that's safe. And that's already begun. The way that our system works is we'll treat and then re-treat based on the incidents and events. If it looks like there's going to be some ice and rain and then it'll stop, we'll go back and re-treat and get it ready. Our guys feel, based on the latest information, they feel very confident that we'll be able to provide a very safe environment here starting when we open the gates."

Q: Do you have to have additional man power to be treating that stadium like that?

DONOVAN: "We'll have additional man power across the board and that's one of the considerations that came into moving as well, making sure you can get the man power here. Across the board in the sense that security, operations, the prep, the road crews, etc."

Q: Doubling your head count, can you measure it?

DONOVAN: "I don't know if I'd sit here and tell you it's doubling the head count but if you figure we're an organization of 160-170 full-time employees, we'll have 2,500 people here on Sunday working for us in all of the various areas, so it's a significant force to present the game."

Q: To your knowledge when was the last time a playoff game time was moved or has it happened before?

DONOVAN: "I am sure someone in this room knows the answer to that question, but I don't."

Q: Was this the latest it could happen? Could you have done this tomorrow?

DONOVAN: "Yeah, we talked a lot about that with the league. When we went through the questions, the information and then the options as we got closer to what we thought was the right window, the Commissioner and I actually spoke about what's holding us from announcing. So once the league said 'here's where we're leaning,' we did have a discussion about if we're going that way, let's go earlier. The reason for that is we've received a bunch of questions from our fans, season ticket members – what's going on? Could it change? When would it change? When are you going to announce? Two, we want to make sure our staff, our operations team and our vendors can plan and get ready for the change of the time."

Q: Are there options available for ticket holders that may have been able to attend the noon game and now for travel reasons can't attend the evening game?

DONOVAN: "Yeah, I won't get into the specifics. I would tell every single person that has a question on that to call our box office, go to our website – we have a full customer service staff on-hand. All of those questions are specific, so we want to answer them specifically. For the most part, we did have some questions early on about refunds before we moved the game and we didn't do any refunds. We don't plan on doing refunds for the game. It's a typical practice for us."

Q: The primary market, have all of the tickets been sold?

DONOVAN: "Like I said Monday, there's always a handful of tickets out there, we actually hold back some tickets just for last-second needs. If somebody went onto our website they would see a ticket for sale but its minuscule. It's singles, it's a couple club seats. We're sold out."

Q: Do you feel like with the time change there will be a better chance that fans will be able to come out and have that home-field advantage and that the weather could be through?

DONOVAN: "Yeah I hope so. I think the more important point to that question is we want our fans to be safe. We want them to be aware, we want them to be cautious. We're doing everything we can to present the game in the perfect window for everybody to have the best experience and part of that is giving them more time to get here. There's going to be traffic and there's going to be issues on the roads. Just be careful, use good judgement, take your time and be patient. We'll be ready."

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