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Sixty Years in Kansas City: The Era of Good Feeling

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 7 of the series.

Seeing the transformation of the Kansas City Chiefs franchise after so many seasons of disappointment was a surprise, especially to long-time critics of the franchise. An argument could be made to suggest that leadership — conscious, principled, exemplary — was of higher quality and greater significance than the Chiefs had known.

For three consecutive years after the arrival of the Peterson-Schottenheimer team, the Chiefs led the NFL in new season ticket sales from a base that had shrunk to 25,378 seats in 1988.

With a winning record in 1989, sales rose to fourth in the league, something that was unthinkable when the previous year ended. In 1990, and following a trip to the playoffs, Kansas City ranked first in that category, and by 1991, they did it once again.

From 1992 to 1993, there was a 96 percent renewal of season tickets, and the first appearance of a waiting list that was far more legitimate than what other teams released, given that those on the Chiefs' list had placed down a deposit verifying a sincere interest. Even sales to pre-season games were hot, something unimaginable to most NFL teams.

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

Recent scientific studies suggest that our sensitivity to crowds is built into our perpetual system and operates in a striking swift and automatic way. It seemed particularly clear that being joined with friends and fans inside the stadium on a Sunday afternoon was responsible for much of the game's appeal.

Moreover, for many new fans who gathered here as Schottenheimer's teams began to enjoy success, it was a first-time experience. Many had never seen reason to attend a Chiefs game and, if they had, the stadium would have seemed especially empty and the idea of being here especially so. But buttressed by the old hangers-on who had stuck around because they remembered the glory days, "being there" in short time became the thing to do.

The Chiefs were back as a viable product in the sports marketplace to the extent that season ticket sales were frozen, first at 65,000, and then again to the mid-70s so as to give a taste to those fans who could only make it to one or two games a year. (The stadium originally seated more than 79,000 before undergoing its renovation.)

By 1993, overall attendance averaged 75,215 per game. It was the start of the second most productive period in franchise history with six straight trips to the playoffs.

NFL officials would call a game day in Kansas City "the ultimate NFL experience."

Later: Holding on to your base