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Kansas City Chiefs fans bundle up for coldest game in Arrowhead history: ‘One for the ages’

Fans walk into Arrowhead Stadium just before the Chiefs' 2023 playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Carlos Moreno
Fans walk into Arrowhead Stadium just before the Chiefs' 2023 playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Saturday’s playoff game between the Chiefs and Dolphins could see temperatures drop as low as negative 4 degrees, even before wind chill. Here's what Kansas City fans should know before they head to Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City will be giving quite the cold shoulder to the visiting Miami Dolphins this weekend. It’s a playoff game that could make history — and not because of who wins.

The National Weather Service’s latest forecasts put the temperature for the Chiefs’ kickoff on Saturday at negative-1 degrees — with wind chill making it feel like negative-21.

And it will get worse from there: By the game’s end, Arrowhead Stadium could be a crisp negative-4 degrees, with wind chill of negative-26.

“With the temperatures they're expecting for Saturday, we're predicting a risk of only 30 minutes of exposure before you could start to develop frostbite,” says Julia Slater, medical director of the Burnett Burn Center at University of Kansas Health System.

The playoff match is expected to set the record for coldest game ever played at Arrowhead Stadium. That title has long been held by a 1983 Chiefs-Broncos contest, where the temperature was between 1 and 0.5 degrees, according to Pro Football Reference.

Even still, Saturday’s temperature won’t come close to the coldest game in NFL history, which was the 1967 NFL Championship between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. The game was played in negative-13 degree weather, with a wind chill of negative-48.

Despite the risk of frostbite, hypothermia and a wicked head cold, many Chiefs fans still plan to show their support at Arrowhead, and see the temperatures as a badge of honor.

“If this ends up being the coldest game on record, it’ll be one for the ages,” says Independence resident Shane Gill. “I want to tell people I was there.”

Kansas Citians can, of course, watch the game from the comfort of their home on KSHB-TV, channel 41, at 7 p.m. Central Time. Outside of the metro area, you can stream the game on Peacock.

‘Be prepared to suffer a little’

Two women pose with cardboard signs at a Kansas City Chiefs game.
Lenna Breiby
Leanne Breiby (left) and Lara Mueting (right) pose for a photo in the stands at Arrowhead Stadium during the 2023 AFC Championship Game.

Based on ticket prices and availability, Saturday’s game will not set any high records for attendance. For a stadium that's usually packed, tickets are available for resale on StubHub and Ticketmaster for as low as $40 (before fees, of course).

It's not even clear if dependable Arrowhead attendee Taylor Swift will brave the temperatures, although she would likely have a more comfortable indoor seat.

KCUR spoke to several fans who originally planned to attend, before deciding later they would skip the game over health concerns and reluctance to spend hours in the cold.

But those low prices also mean a rare opportunity to see a Super Bowl-bound Chiefs team in person. Hyde Park resident Leanne Breiby plans to fill one of those chilly seats.

“If it was a regular season game, I might have second thoughts,” says Breiby. “But when it comes to the playoffs, it's a no brainer. As a season ticket holder, you have to be there.”

Breiby and her friend, fellow season ticket holder Lara Mueting, have been going to Chiefs games together for years. They’ve even given themselves the nickname “The Chiefs Wives.”

The pair have no delusions about what they’re getting themselves into. It may be cold, Breidy says, but they’re ready for it.

“I'll probably actually wear two full coats. I have a vintage Chiefs starter jacket that I plan to wear as a second coat,” Breiby says. “The real trick that we've found is we used to bring cardboard in to stand on, which is helpful to insulate your feet from the cold ground.”

30-year-old Will Rusch, a season ticket holder, told KCUR's Up To Date that he even plans to tailgate before the game. He and around 50 family member plan to arrive at the parking lot around 11 a.m.

They'll spend most of the time inside their heated bus, which they’ve nicknamed “Tequila Gator." It's a family tradition.

“They've been doing it for longer than I've been alive," Rusch says. "So this is our fourth bus that we've had. This one's now like a repurposed bread truck. And then I’ve got layers on layers and full crock pots of warm food.”

A fan is bundled up for cold weather during the second half of an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Charlie Riedel
Associated Press
A fan is bundled up for cold weather during the second half of an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Kansas City Chiefs have released some recommendations for fans attending the game. A spokesperson confirmed that fans are allowed to bring cardboard into the stadium to stand on, so long as it meets the size requirements for banners and signs (no larger than 3’ by 5’).

Attendees are able to bring blankets, as long as they don’t have zippers or compartments, as well as battery packs/portable chargers no bigger than 6” by 3” by 1.5” for heated clothing. One factory sealed water bottle of 20 ounces or less is also allowed. You can find a full list of prohibited items here.

Gills is also ready to take precautions in order to see what he expects will be a good game.

“I don't wanna (sound harsh),” says Gills. “But… honestly, just be prepared to suffer a little cause I think the Chiefs are going to do quite well. The Dolphins also statistically play terribly when it's colder than 40. ”

According to the Associated Press, the Miami Dolphins have lost their last 10 straight games played 40 degrees or colder weather. Each of those games they lost by an average of 17 points — so Gills may not be just wishful thinking.

On the other hand, the Chiefs have only lost one of their past 10 home games where the temperatures were below 40 degrees.

‘Get out and stay out of the cold’

Dozens of people walk through the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium during a snow storm.
Chris Prewitt
KCUR 89.3
Fans push through a snow storm to return to their cars during a 2019 Chief-Broncos game.

No matter how well fans, staff and players say they’re prepared for a frozen football game, they face significant risks for staying out in such cold weather — namely frostbite and hypothermia.

One of the most common pieces of advice for combating these conditions is to layer up. But Slater at the Burnett Burn Center explains that fans need to be more intentional about what kind of clothing they choose.

“You want loose layers because then warmer air gets trapped in there and helps warm you a little bit better,” says Slater. “Also definitely be sure to cover those areas that we worry about the most for frostbite — things like your fingers, toes, nose, chin, and ears.”

Slater also advises fans to limit or forgo drinking alcohol.

“It can actually worsen frostbite because it does change sort of how your blood is circulating,” Slater explains. “With hypothermia, you may even confuse excessive alcohol consumption signs with the signs of hypothermia itself.”

Those symptoms include confusion, tiredness, memory loss, slurring of speech and loss of motor control.

In addition, most beers having a freezing point of around 28 degrees, depend on their ABV, so drinking may be more trouble than it’s worth (and that’s even before you factor in the prices at Arrowhead).

A group of five people wearing heavy, cold-weather clothing and other Kansas City Chiefs merchandise, stand around a grill in a large parking lot where one of the group is cooking hamburgers and other meat. Behind them is a football stadium with the sign "Chiefs" on it.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Fans tailgate outside Arrowhead Stadium just before the Chiefs' 2023 playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Slater says that one of the most important things that fans can do if they’re experiencing any frostbite conditions is simply to get out of the cold, and stay warm, no matter how the game on the field is going.

“The most dangerous thing is when you have an area of the tissue that's frozen and you warm it up and go right back out,” Slater says. “If there's any concern that you are developing frostbite, you need to get out and stay out of the cold so that you don't do more damage.”

Arrowhead will have several warming stations within and outside the stadium on Saturday.

Warming stations outside Arrowhead Stadium:

  • Parking Gate 3
  • Parking Gate 4
  • Parking Gate 5
  • Parking Gate 6
  • Lot B
  • Lot C
  • Lot D
  • Lot F
  • Lot G
  • Lot M (Northwest corner of the Ford Tailgate District)

Warming stations inside Arrowhead Stadium:

  • At the bottom of each of the four Field Level spirals
  • Near the Jim Beam Bar (northside of stadium) on the Upper Level
  • Near the Crown Royal (southside of stadium) on the Upper Level
  • Near the Red Zone (eastside of the stadium) on the Upper Level
  • Near the Red Zone (westside of the stadium) on the Upper Level
  • Season Ticket Member Kickoff Countdown tent on the Plaza Level, near Gate G (open to all fans at kick-off)

Are you planning to brave the cold for Saturday's Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium? Tell KCUR about your experience by sending us a text message: 816-601-4777.

If you have questions about texting with KCUR, you can find more information here.

As KCUR’s Community Engagement Producer, I help welcome our audiences into the newsroom, and bring our journalism out into the communities we serve. Many people feel overlooked or misperceived by the media, and KCUR needs to do everything we can to cover and empower the diverse communities that make up the Kansas City metro — especially the ones who don’t know us in the first place. My work takes the form of reporting stories, holding community events, and bringing what I’ve learned back to Up To Date and the rest of KCUR.

What should KCUR be talking about? Who should we be talking to? Let me know. You can email me at zjperez@kcur.org or message me on Twitter at @zach_pepez.

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