Our collective jaw hit the ground last week when the Chiefs announced that game-day parking for some unsuspecting fans will be $60.
Sixty beans! We envisioned scores of Kansas City-area residents in their bright-red Chiefs sweatshirts parking along Raytown Road and hiking into the stadium en masse to avoid an outrageous fee like that.
Now, we understand that there’s a method to the madness here. The idea, team officials tell us, is to motivate fans to buy parking passes online before games for $30 or $35. That will speed entry into the stadium — by a factor of two, they say — and curtail those long backups that frustrate fans eager to get inside and root on Alex Smith and the boys.
Exchanging cash at parking entry points dramatically slows down the entire process. It adds to those long lines shortly before kickoff.
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Still, we can’t help but think of the poor mom or dad out there who’s schlepping a child to a first Chiefs game and is unaware of the eye-popping price of admission. That will put a big damper on the experience.
Lots of Chiefs fans apparently already are navigating this new world order. That playoff game in January against the Steelers? About nine in 10 cars entering the lot paid in advance, the team said. For the 2016 regular season at Arrowhead, 78 percent bought in advance, up from 55 percent just one season earlier.
Fans appear to be getting the message.
Still, as fun as it is, the Arrowhead experience continues its rapid ascent into the financial stratosphere. The cost of attending a game these days has reached small-fortune status. According to the 2016 “Team Marketing Report” for the NFL, the cost of a game for four was $423.56. That includes four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, two least expensive adult-size caps and parking. That represents a 7 percent bump from 2015.
We don’t know about you, but a hundred here and a hundred there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
Costs like that knock out legions of Kansas City residents who simply can’t afford to walk into their taxpayer-supported stadium.
The good news? That $423.56 expense was the sixth-lowest among the league’s 32 teams. The NFL average reached nearly $503 last year. The top of the toppermost? The Chicago Bears will ding you $685 for a game for four.
Charging what they charge for parking and everything else is clearly within the rules laid out in the team’s 2006 lease agreement with Jackson County. But let this be a word of warning to the uninitiated: Hang onto your wallet when entering the Chiefs Kingdom.