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Chiefs' New Tailgating Rule Irks Fans, But Seems Not To Be Enforced

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3 file photo
Tailgating was in full swing Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs' first home game of the season. But a new rule may change some tailgating traditions.

The Kansas City Chiefs' first home game of the season brought a packed stadium, loud fans — and the rollout of a new tailgaiting policy.  

The Chiefs announced last month the new rules, which require fans in the parking lots to either enter the stadium or leave at kickoff, not allowing for people to watch the game or keep partying. So far, the rules have not gone over well, and fan reactions on Sunday were no exception.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Greg Greenwell travels from St. Louis for Chiefs home games.

Greg Greenwell has season tickets and drives to Arrowhead Stadium from St. Louis for every game. He said he understands the new rule, but he's not happy about it, because it keeps family members who don't buy tickets from coming to tailgate with him.

"I come over here, I spend the gas money, the hotel money, the restaurant money to come for a weekend, and now part of my family doesn't get to come," Greenwell said.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Wearing his "All Pro Tailgater" shirt, Ray Daniel carries on a 33-year tradition at Chiefs games.

Ray Daniel also makes quite a drive. He said he's come from Muskogee, Oklahoma, for just about every Chiefs home game for the past 33 years. He buys tickets, but occasionally, he'd stay behind to listen to the crowd from his tent and make sure the grease from his fish didn't catch fire. 

"I think it's rotten. They're going to lose money. That's $60 I pay to get in — they're going to miss that," Daniel said.

Several fans brought up the 2013 incident when a fight between fans in the parking lot turned deadly. The Chiefs just settled that lawsuit this summer, and Chiefs President Mark Donovan acknowledged the incident did factor into the new policy

Phil Newton, who had a large flat-screen television from his bedroom set up in the back of his car, said the new rules are unfair.

"A couple bad apples ruined it for the rest of us," Newton said. "When it comes to individual acts, I just don't feel like it should affect the whole. At the very least they should get more security around here to prevent that type of thing from happening, but don't punish everyone for it."

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
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Amber and Kyle Morris and their friends packed up their van and joined the long line into the stadium about 15 minutes before kickoff.

Amber Morris and her friends packed up their Chiefs van and headed to the stadium 15 minutes before the noon kickoff against the San Francisco 49ers (the Chiefs won 38-27). Morris said she thinks the policy would be better if it was enforced at halftime or the third quarter. 

"It's a part of the atmosphere. That's what we're known for, is tailgating, all over the world. So why would you try to prevent people from that?" Morris said.

Her husband, Kyle Morris, said he's worried it will lead to more drinking and driving, because a lot of the tailgating, and drinking, starts as early as 7 a.m.

Hundreds of fans were still pouring into the stadium at kickoff, and a handful continued to drink and grill, like Justine Wiltz and Carlos Ramos from Emporia, Kansas, and friends of theirs who were in from San Francisco.

They said they didn't know about the new policy. Ramos typically waits to buy cheaper tickets online after the game starts.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Carlos Ramos (right) and friends continued to tailgate until halftime without being told to leave.

"Usually we come and stay and at about halftime, we go in," Wiltz said.

Parking attendants, security and police whizzed back and forth on golf carts right by their large tent and grill, but never stopped to enforce the rule. Nearby, an even larger group huddled under two tents watching the game on a large television in the back of a pickup truck, and dozens of small groups still wandered through the lots through much of the first quarter. 

Tasha Allen's tailgating crew was still in full swing at kickoff. Pointing around at the crowds still tailgating or slowly making their way in, she said she's skeptical they'll be able to enforce the rules.

And, she said, more than the game itself, a lot of fans come for the sense of community.

"It's about the Kansas City crowd, the Chiefs fans, everybody coming together," Allen said. 

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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