I was elated when I first heard the news of the Chiefs holding their second-annual open practice — or, as the team referred to it as, the "Back to Football Bash" — this Wednesday last. Last year's version included a tour of Arrowhead's finer suites (albeit run by yours truly), a spirited practice, and a should-have-been-had-it-not-been-for-locked-doors-and-blocked-off-exits run-in with team owner, Clark Hunt, and general manager, Scott Pioli. Fun was had.
This year? Not so much.
Not a whole lot was different (although there was about a third as many people compared to last year) to be honest, but the whole thing just felt... forced. First off, the weather was brutal, but that didn't seem to hamper things last year. The practice was generally uneventful (except for a Matt Cassel pick-six at the hands of Jon McGraw), and there was this most-awkward P.A. being done by Chiefs' radio play-by-play man, Mitch Holtus.
"And now the all-important team-stretching drill will begin..."
Luckily the credit card machines worked (see: Chiefs v. Bucs - "the one where the professional sports team alienates half of its drunken audience"), and the beers were a mega-cheapo $8 bucks, or the whole thing would have been a complete FAIL.
There were ushers who greeted us at the front gate; not to frisk us or anything... maybe a David Glass/Wal-Mart influence? Clark, you shouldn't have...
And there was that ominous practice-clock, of which the timer had no bearing on the practice schedule whatsoever... and that which stopped, ever-so-eerily at 15 seconds — never to tick again.
It's obvious ticket sales are down, though this statement would be definitively more obvious had you played hooky today (like me) and listened to 810 WHB for an extended period of time. Now, I understand 810 has been partnered-up with the Chiefs since last year, but judging by the amount of tickets they had stashed, the team is having a hell of a time getting rid of them.
And these weren't just upper-level tickets, either (In fact, it's possible none of them were uppers). We're talking lower-level seats sitting in a desk at Union Broadcasting Inc. for Friday's Governor's Cup.
Preseason sales, though, are the least of Hunt's problems, and that was never apparent than upon the team's announcement of a "Kickoff Rally" — or "Back to Football Bash Again" as I'd like to call it — to be held at the Power & Light District in Kansas City this Monday. The Chiefs seem to be doing anything in their collective power to sell season tickets (save for, you know, the most logical solution of LOWERING THE DAMN PRICES).
On a side note: Anybody else wondering what the HELL they were thinking when they painted the $200-plus club-level seats an absurdly-noticeable YELLOW? And is anybody else laughing like me while watching a home "sellout" at Arrowhead on television with 10-15,000 seats unoccupied?
Anyway, things have definitely changed out at Arrowhead, and the Chiefs seem desperate. The days of five-year waiting lists for tickets are long gone. The days of parking within a two-mile radius of the stadium (if you're lucky) for a mere TWENTY-SEVEN DOLLARS are here. Rejoice!
And you wonder why I'm struggling to fall for these guys.