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Sixty Years in Kansas City: Teamwork on the Field and Off

Looking back at Chiefs history

This season represents the 60th year for the Chiefs in Kansas City. Over this season, we'll highlight some of the history of the franchise since Lamar Hunt officially announced on February 8, 1963, that his team was coming to town. This is Part 6 of the series.

Albert Lasker, the man credited with inventing modern advertising, is alleged to have said that good advertising could not produce a bad product. The new Chiefs management and coaching teams hired by Lamar Hunt at the close of 1988 took that to heart.

These new Chiefs were therefore portrayed as no-nonsense, not slick marketers trying to bamboozle what had become a cynical public when it came to its professional football franchise. Television advertising was in stark black-and-white to give the impression that this team was here to do hard work.

The new general manager headed out with players in tow to meet fans throughout the metro area and beyond to show their interest was genuine and to sell a few tickets in the process.

Group sales were emphasized as never before, and the ticket operation was computerized for the first time to better serve the needs of the buyer as well as the team in serving those needs.

A wide view of Arrowhead Stadium during a 1990 home game.

Up until that time, the various Chiefs' ticket outlets stretching over multiple states still operated through the sale of "hard" tickets, which resulted in numerous duplications come game day.

Marketing, ticket sales and promotions were still relatively small operations when Carl Peterson took over, but this quickly changed. Warpaint did not return, but in its place was a new mascot, "KC Wolf," much in the mold of the Phillie Phanatic.

With a nod to the past and to older fans who had kept the faith for these many years, Tony DiPardo's Band was back, a few years older, but stationed now in the far end zone to pump up the crowd. Retired players who had stuck around the city after their careers ended were recruited to form an organization called the Ambassadors, one of the first of its kind, and soon to become a model for other NFL teams.

Also, back, although it had never truly existed to any extent, was a parking lot atmosphere that replicated what one would find on Saturday afternoons on large college campuses. Tailgating was promoted, a departure from other NFL stadiums where management looked to push their fans inside to partake in concessions and only their concessions. A 1993 team survey showed that 70 percent of the people who attended games tailgated. In time, the Chiefs would come to park in excess of 26,000 vehicles for some events.

Kansas City Chiefs fans cheer in the stands during a 1993 NFL game.

The issue of the kind of people who only showed up for games with the Raiders, the franchise's historical rival, was addressed, this time in a subtle way. A new "Clean Team" program was established with staff assigned to stadium bathrooms on game day to make sure they were tidied up with towels and the floors kept clear of water, a practice you could only find in a hotel.

Security was beefed up, but with a kinder and gentler hand, so as not to provoke outbursts in the stands. Over time, season ticket holders took back their seats if for no better reason than they wanted to go to the games, not give their tickets away. Fans began to take pride in their seating areas where they bonded with old friends and met new ones.

Of course, all these moves would have been cosmetic unless the team improved, and it did almost immediately. There was almost an immediate revival in confidence among a public that had steered clear of games in Kansas City.

Later: The "Era of Good Feeling"