Primetime football is returning to Arrowhead Stadium this week as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Oakland Raiders in an AFC West showdown on Thursday Night Football. It marks the club's first home primetime game of the season, and will put the team, Chiefs fans and the entire city in the national spotlight as it will be broadcast on NFL Network, NBC and Twitter. Below is important information to assist fans as they plan for Thursday's game.
GETTING TO THE GAME
Due to the normal weekday rush hour traffic, fans traveling to Arrowhead Stadium will experience increased traffic throughout the metro area compared to normal Sunday gameday traffic patterns. To create the best possible experience, parking gates will open at noon and the club is encouraging all fans to arrive as early as possible to avoid being on the roads during the heaviest traffic periods throughout the day. Fans should follow both the Missouri Department of Transportation and the Kansas Department of Transportation on their social media accounts – including @MoDOT_KC and @KansasCityKDOT on Twitter and MoDOT Kansas City and KDOT on Facebook – for updates on road and traffic conditions. To avoid additional delays and save money, fans should visit www.chiefs.com/parking to purchase their parking pass in advance and set their parking gameplan.
For the first hour of parking from noon to 1 p.m., fans will be able to "open park," allowing them to park in their preferred spot in any approved grass areas or Lots C, D, F, G and the perimeter of Lot N as long as it matches the parking pass they have purchased. Once open park ends at 1 p.m., cars will be directed to the next available spot as they are for all Chiefs games.
Chiefs Kingdom Rewards members who arrive early can collect a special triple-point early arrival reward, earning 2,400 CKR points instead of 800 points by scanning their prepaid parking pass at the tollgates by 3 p.m.
STADIUM GATES AND CLEAR BAG POLICY
Arrowhead Stadium gates will open to all ticket holders at 6 p.m. for the 7:25 p.m. kickoff. For guests with tickets on the Scout Investments Club Level, stadium gates will open at 5 p.m. The NFL's clear bag policy is in place for all Chiefs games. Fans can visit www.nfl.com/allclear or www.chiefs.com/arrowhead/clearbagpolicy.html for important information on the clear bag policy and a complete list of permitted and prohibited items. The Draft Room, open to all Chiefs fans, provides a sports bar atmosphere before, during, and after the game. Located just west of the Tower Club, the Draft Room is also accessible via the Gate F spiral and will open at 4 p.m.
ANNUAL TOYS FOR TOTS DRIVE
Sunday's contest will mark the 51st consecutive Chiefs Toys for Tots collection. In partnership with the Marine Corps, the Chiefs Toys for Tots collection is the longest running drive of its kind between an NFL franchise and a military branch. Chiefs volunteers along with local service members will be accepting donations outside of all stadium gates. Fans are asked to donate new and unwrapped toys for boys and girls up to the age of 13. In particular, there is a high need for toys that older children can utilize. Last season, the Marines and the Chiefs collected a record 2,322 toys and more than $8,570 in donations thanks to the generosity of Chiefs fans. More information on the Chiefs Toys for Tots drive is available at http://www.chiefs.com/toysfortots/.
FORD FAN EXPERIENCE
The Ford Fan Experience, located on the Founder's Plaza on the north side of Arrowhead Stadium, will open at 4 p.m. The area will feature social media stations, a DJ, face-painting, a field goal kicking inflatable, a Play 60 station and Chiefs-themed tailgate games.
NBC THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BUS AND NFL NETWORK SET OUTSIDE ARROWHEAD
With NBC broadcasting Thursday Night Football, the network's Sunday Night Football bus will make a stop outside the Sprint Gate at Arrowhead Stadium. The bus features an interactive control room replica and digital/social media wall, as well as a replica of the *Football Night in America *desk. Fans will be able to tour the bus to take a look at what it's like behind the scenes of Sunday Night Football.
In addition, the Thursday Night Football Fan Zone presented by Tostitos will be set up outside the Sprint Gate. Chiefs Kingdom Rewards members had the opportunity to use their points to secure entry into the Fan Zone to experience an on-location tailgate featuring food and drink, NFL Network giveaways and a visit from Chiefs Hall of Fame RB Christian Okoye. The Thursday Night Football crew will also have a set outside the Sprint Gate where NFL Network talent will be giving live reports before kickoff.
Beginning with the 2015 season, the NFL introduced Color Rush uniforms to be worn during some Thursday Night Football games throughout the season. In 2016, Nike and the NFL introduced Color Rush looks for all teams and the Chiefs will wear their all-red uniform combination for Color Rush on Thursday. A promotional photo of the Chiefs Color Rush uniform is available here.
HUNT FAMILY FOUNDATION 50/50 RAFFLE PRIMETIME SPECIAL
A new tradition beginning this season, the Hunt Family Foundation 50/50 Raffle will feature a special offer for fans purchasing raffle tickets during any of the club's primetime contests. With normal prices set at one ticket for
$2, three tickets for $5, 10 tickets for $10 and 60 tickets for $20, the Chiefs are introducing a 100 ticket deal for only $20. So far this season more than $446,000 has been raised, with half of that money going to winning ticket holders and half going to various local charities. For more information on the Hunt Family Foundation 50/50 Raffle please visit http://www.chiefs.com/5050-raffle.html.
Thursday's 50/50 Raffle will benefit City Year Kansas City, a national program that trains 50 full-time AmeriCorps members and places them in urban schools to serve middle and high school students. In Kansas City, City Year has 50 AmeriCorps members working in five schools, reaching more than 2,500 students daily. The Kansas City Chiefs and the Hunt Family Foundation are proud to sponsor the City Year team at Central Middle School. For more information on City Year Kansas City please visit https://www.cityyear.org/kansas-city.
WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER CELEBRATION
The National Football League is announcing the 32 team nominees for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide this week. At halftime of Thursday's game, the club will honor the five previous NFL Man of the Year Award winners, recognizing their accomplishments and the fact that no other franchise has more Man of the Year winners than the Chiefs. The winners – Willie Lanier (1972), Len Dawson (1973), Will Shields (2003) and Brian Waters (2009), along with Derrion Thomas, son of the late Derrick Thomas (1993), will participate in a ceremony on the field. In addition, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt will make a special presentation to the Chiefs 2016 Man of the Year nominee's charity. More information on the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide is available at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.
TUNE IN IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT TO ARROWHEAD
Fans that are unable to attend Thursday night's game at Arrowhead Stadium can tune in to the game on KSHB locally where NBC's Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Heather Cox will be on the television broadcast. The game will also air on KCFX 101 The Fox, home of the Chiefs Radio Network, where Voice of the Chiefs Mitch Holthus, Pro Football Hall of Fame QB Len Dawson and former Pro Bowl long snapper Kendall Gammon will have the call. Tico Sports will also broadcast Thursday's game in Spanish on KCZZ 1480 AM with Enrique Morales, Oscar Monterroso and Leo Prieto calling the action. Thursday Night Football will also stream on Twitter.
CHIEFS PRESIDENT MARK DONOVAN PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OPENING STATEMENT: "Hello everybody, thanks for coming in. Raider week, that's the first reason I'm here and how excited we are to be a part of the national stage this week with Raider week. Our fans make Arrowhead a special place. I want to make a special point to say our fans made the stadium yesterday in Atlanta a special place. I got the opportunity to walk around the concourse in Atlanta prior to the game and was pleasantly surprised by how many Chiefs fans there were prior to the game and then we heard them the entire game. We heard them at the beginning, we heard them through and it was great to celebrate with them afterwards, so thank you for that. They will make Thursday night special again. We will be on the national stage as a community and that's an exciting opportunity for us all and we're thankful that we're going to have one of the most exciting games to date during this season here at Arrowhead at night in primetime. One of the things we do want to talk about is traffic and parking for Thursday night.
"We asked Scott Banes and Markl Johnson from MoDOT to join us to answer your questions afterwards specifically. As our football team prepares for games we also prepare for games. We've been preparing for this game for almost a month and when you look at the unique aspects of a primetime game on a weeknight, you have some interesting challenges that are part of the process of commuting around this town on a weeknight. We sent up helicopters a few Thursdays ago on a typical Thursday to take video to show everyone in real time what it looks like around the stadium on I-435 and on I-70 on a typical Thursday. When you see the photos, which we'll provide and some of the videos which we'll provide, you'll see that there's a ton of traffic in this area on a typical Thursday night. Add to that one of the biggest games in the NFL this year and it has a recipe for having some real traffic delays. So what we want to do is we want to inform our fans – as well as our fans that may not be coming to the game – of what they're going to face Thursday. When we say Thursday, we mean all day Thursday.
"Our way to address that and hopefully provide some information as well as some alternatives for our fans is to really encourage fans to get out here early. What we're trying to do is get people off the roads. Whether you're coming to the stadium or whether you're going to watch the game at home, get off the roads earlier than you expect. We are going to open our gates at 12 noon instead of the normal four-and-a-half hours prior (to kickoff). For the first hour of parking from 12 – 1 it will be open park, which means if you get out here between 12-1, parking in Lot C, D, F and G, the grass areas as well as Lot N, the grass areas around Lot N, you will be able to park wherever you choose to park. If you have a tailgate spot, if you have a place you love to go, come here between 12 and 1 and setup and you will be able to do that. Starting at one o'clock we will direct park like we typically do for all of our games. We will be directing you to the nearest spot based on the gate that you come in. Our hope is to get as many cars off the road and into the complex as we possibly can, as early as we can. That obviously creates some interesting challenges for the folks that may not be able to get off work early and come out here later.
"If you're not able to get off work if you're not able to get here any time earlier than 3 p.m. you are going to face substantial traffic, it's just what happens with the amount of commuters that come through here. Be prepared for that. If you are not going to the game, if you are going home to watch the game and you typically use I-70 or I-435 around the stadium complex to get home, we recommend finding an alternative route prior to Thursday and using that route. One of the things that we talked about with our MoDOT friends is other ways that may seem a lot longer to get to where you need to go will take you less time than trying to get through your typical commute on I-70 or on I-435.
"We're opening the parking lots early, one thing we typically do with early parking is we have our Chiefs Kingdom Rewards members' cash 2,000 of their points to have access to that open park. We're waving that for this game so everybody who comes in between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. you will not have to cash any points. Anybody who comes in can come in for free (no CKR points) and will not have any restrictions on that. I mentioned if you're not coming to the game, try to be off the road before 3 p.m. That's what we're recommending based on the information we've seen, based on the videos that you'll see. If you're not off the roads before 3 p.m. you are going to face some traffic. Any questions please visit Chiefs.com/parking. A couple of other things we wanted to comment on.
"The weather forecast, we may get some snow on Wednesday, right now it doesn't look like we'll get any snow on Thursday, but it will be cold. Obviously prepare yourself, bring blankets, as you typically do. I'm not going to tell our fans how to be fans – they know how to celebrate at Arrowhead. A couple of things that we are doing that are different, the Pro Shop will be open as soon as the gates open so if you want to come in and get warm, that will be there. The Draft Room, which is one of the areas where you can actually watch games and highlights and you can also get something to eat that will be warm, that will be open at four o'clock. Once you're inside the stadium a lot of people that come in the Hy-Vee Gate know this, but Hy-Vee – as part of our partnership – created this early on a couple of years ago where they actually have heating units in the ceiling above that gate so if you come in on the main concourse level of Hy-Vee Gate you can warm up, that's during the game (when the stadium opens). Then about 40 different locations throughout the stadium will be serving hot chocolate, coffee, as well as some hot spot concessions so you can come in and get chili, soup and other warm food options.
"Some general comments, gates open at 6 p.m., the Scout Investment Club Level will open at 5 p.m. It is our Color Rush game with our primetime games this year. We will be wearing red-on-red. It's also our Toys for Tots game so we do encourage folks to bring out toys for kids during this holiday season. I think people are aware of this but last year we were able to set a new record for the amount of toys and money that we raised during that so that is an important function for us this game. Because it's Thursday Night Football, an NBC national broadcast, the NBC Thursday Night Football bus will on-site early. It will be set up near the Sprint Gate and our fans will be able to walk through that Thursday Night Football bus and see what it's like behind the scenes of producing that game. The Ford Fan Experience will open at 4 p.m. and fans will be able to do the interactive activities at the Ford Fan Experience.
"During the game, our Hunt Family Foundation 50/50 Raffle, we are setting new records every single game with the amount of money that's being raised from our 50/50 raffle. And for those of you who don't know how it works, 50 percent goes to the winner that day and 50 percent is donated to a local charity. We've raised almost a half million dollars from the games so far this year. We're going to do something a little different this year for those who have done it before, we're going to offer 100 tickets for $20 dollars, versus 60 (tickets), which we expect to set a new record and potentially have over $100,000 as part of the pot.
"During the game, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year celebration, one of the pride points of this organization that started with Lamar [Hunt], is the commitment to our community and getting our players to be active in our community and our players have responded. There is no other team in the NFL who has more Walton Payton Man of the Year Award winners than we do and we will have all five of them here. Derrick Thomas will be represented by his son Derrion, but all of them will be part of the gameday experience and will be part of the actual halftime show. I'll end on this and then I'll take some of your questions, but the tune-in message is obvious, if you're not coming to the game, watch the game on NBC, Channel 41. It is going to be a spectacle and it is going to be something that we are very proud to display – Kansas City on the national stage."
Q: Just to be clear on the open parking, that's depending on your parking pass as well?
DONOVAN: "That's correct, it does do that. Open park is contingent with whatever your parking pass is, so you're open in red areas and you're open in gold areas."
Q:The parking lots open at noon and the stadium gates open at 6 p.m.?
DONOVAN:"Stadium gates at 6 p.m. Club gates at 5 p.m."
Q:Do your security parameters change with a primetime game?
DONOVAN:"Yeah, so typically any primetime game we'll have additional security on site. You've heard me say this before, we don't publicize everything that we do on the security front for obvious reasons, but there will be more security in place. The other thing to consider with this in the traffic and the parking, you'll see this in the photos and in the video, is the sun goes down before five o'clock on Thursday. It's cold, it's dark, if you look at it, and these guys can speak to that – when it gets dark, traffic is different. So, most of our fans know exactly where they're going and have their defined routes, but for the folks who may be coming out for their first game of the year or never been to Arrowhead before – that creates another complicated factor."
Q:You talk about the cold weather and the 40 hot chocolate stations – is that typical for a cold game or is this a little unique?
DONOVAN:"It's a little unique. It's one of the challenges that we put out to our team two months ago to prepare for this. We know it's going to be cold in the latter half of the season, we knew we had this primetime game, we knew we had the Christmas night game – what can we do to create a better fan experience? What can we do to really deal with the fact that our fans are going to be cold? So, having more stations, having unique items, we challenged our vendor partners to do that. So, we'll be excited to see how that goes this Thursday."
Q:Will there be additional medical assistance for those who get cold or have issues with the cold weather?
DONOVAN:"Yeah, absolutely. So, obviously, preventative [planning] is the most important message. So, be aware of not only yourself, but your friends that you're with. It is going to get cold. It's not going to be historically cold, but it's going to be cold, and just be aware to prepare. Bring the extra layer, bring the hand warmers. Don't show up predicting that it' not going to be as cold as it is. Then, if you see any distress with you or anyone that you're with, contact any employee that you see with a Chiefs logo on. They can get you to Fans First (customer service). They can get you the medical help that you need."
Q:How are you going to handle the people that tailgate and spread out?
DONOVAN:"Yeah, it's one of our biggest challenges out here. It's a challenge on the positive end and the negative. We love tailgating. We want to promote tailgating. We want the tailgates to be as festive as they possibly can. Our fans have done a really good job for us this year as the season has gone on of understanding the importance of those yellow lines, and then, understanding that the yellow line is flexible. So, when you come in and set up and when other cars are parking, what we ask is just allow us to use every possible space. Once you're set up and once the lanes are full, and you've seen this every single game, people spread out beyond the yellow line and that's fine. All we ask is that they be things that can be movable in case we need an emergency vehicle. So, people do spread out. We want them to spread out when it's appropriate, but the help we could use, if there is a spot next to you and you see a car coming down, let people get into that spot. To give you some perspective on the numbers – so we have 18,700 paved spaces. We average a little under 20,000 cars parked (per game) this season. For the last game, we parked over 21,000. For the last Thursday night game we had, we parked 24,000 cars. 18,700 spots, 24,000 cars, so we need every possible space, and that's why with tailgating, we want you to tailgate, but we want you to let us use every single spot."
Q:What kind of opportunity is Thursday night for how well the team is playing and just putting the organization on national television?
DONOVAN:"Great opportunity for us as an organization. Great opportunity for our football team, and flexing the Denver game to Sunday night is a similar example of giving our organization that platform. That has real value for our organization and for our partners. Now, that gets multiplied when you're home at Arrowhead. Not only for our partners, but for our fans, for the whole experience. I've said this many times, having been around as long as I've been, been to all the other stadiums, there's something special about Arrowhead. One of the cool things about Arrowhead is on site – if you're here – it's a special experience. The league will tell you, it's a special visual experience as well. So, to see that broadcast, especially a primetime broadcast, it's a great opportunity for us and for our city. As you've seen every primetime game, they'll do the city shots. We're already working on that with everybody in the city to light it up and paint the town red, and we do it in some unique ways that I know our broadcast partners really, really appreciate."
Q:Two of the last three home games will be primetime games. You like that? Is that a good thing for the Chiefs?
DONOVAN:"Yeah, it's a great thing."
DONOVAN:"Well, number one, it's a national stage, right? So, it's an opportunity. You talk to our players, you know they want to be on the national stage. From a brand perspective, from a business perspective, from a partnership standpoint, we are elevating our brand and our organization, and that's a great opportunity. It's special to be at Arrowhead. It's special to be at Arrowhead at night, and as you get later in the season, I think Coach [Andy] Reid would tell you that he loves late season games at Arrowhead because it's tougher on the opponent. It's tougher on the opponent not because of the conditions as much, but our fans. There's a homefield advantage at Arrowhead and it really comes down to those primetime games."
Q:Did the league come to the Chiefs before making the schedule and ask about the Christmas primetime game?
DONOVAN:"Yeah, so the league goes to all the clubs before they do the schedule and ask which dates they'd be open to having games – hosting games. We always ask for primetime games throughout the year. They asked us specifically on Christmas, and we said, 'We'd be open to a primetime Christmas game.' That's one of the reasons we got it. I would also tell you that the other reason we got it was – I've said this a couple times today – but that photo, that shot of Arrowhead is something the league and the networks really value."