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This season represents the 60th year for the Chiefs in Kansas City. Over the coming 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 Two of the series. For a look at Part One, click here.
What happened to change a disappointing situation in Kansas City — and there is no hard evidence in the Hunt files that the team’s founder entertained any formal offers from other cities to pack up and move — was what always does: winning.
The former AFL champs from 1962 found their way back to a championship after a successful 1966 season with one advantage: a chance to play in the first Super Bowl.
As much as anything the franchise had done for Kansas City, the honor of representing a city which had enjoyed little in the way of professional sports success, a trip to what was termed the first “World Championship of Professional Football”, as it was known then, put to rest any thought of moving out of Kansas City. The public’s new love for the game of football and its local team was set in place for the foreseeable future.
It is hardly breaking news to believe that winning cures all, but where Lamar Hunt was different than most owners, and certainly the city’s only experience at that time was with A’s owner Charley Finley, who publicly bashed Kansas City’s lack of support for his team, was that he was willing to fight and accept poor attendance until his team caught on. In his mind, he was only a few years from winning a championship, albeit in Dallas.
In his usual fashion, Hunt had thrown himself into the effort to make Kansas City work where Dallas did not. He evaluated weather patterns for the city and lobbied AFL schedulers for better dates. He continued his practice of speaking at as many public gatherings as possible, and adopted the role of master of ceremonies for the team’s annual home opener fan luncheon, where he offered his usual set of remarks highlighted by obscure facts such as, “the Chiefs have collected talent from colleges in 23 states.”
For his many efforts, he was named “Salesman of the Year” by Kansas City’s Advertising and Sales Executive Club. By May of 1966, the team had exceeded its goal of 20,000 season tickets.
With a second AFL championship under their collective belts, the Chiefs realized continued success at the gate. Even on the rainiest of afternoons, the “Wolfpack” was always filled, its ticket holders usually dressed in red Chiefs ponchos and sporting a full array of umbrellas.
Municipal’s odd configuration for football helped to create another popular era, this one located below the east end zone bleachers which in time came to be known as, “Stenerud’s Roost.”
Hunt loved these creations, particularly when they were fan-based. A forerunner of Oakland’s “Black Hole,” the “Roost” provided fans standing there a chance to upset the opposing team’s quarterback when his team was close to the goal line. Little more than a wide corridor running parallel to the Brooklyn Avenue concession stands and the end zone, ticket holders gathered behind mesh chicken wire intended to keep the football inside the field and people off of it.
Overall sales filled up 85 percent of Municipal’s seats, according to team records, and set a record for the AFL”s five-team Western Division.
Later: Hunt’s victory becomes complete
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