As the ice storm forecast for Kansas City this weekend became more foreboding, conversations among the Chiefs, city officials and the NFL increased. On Friday morning, the decision was made.
The AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday between the Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium will kick off at 7:20 p.m. instead of 12:05. The game will still be televised on NBC.
Chiefs president Mark Donovan said he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday and safety was the primary concern.
“His first line to me was, ‘How do we make this a safety environment for everyone?’” Donovan said. “And what are the best options, what are the best windows?”
This was an NFL decision based on information provided by the Chiefs.
“We sort of came to the conclusion together,” Donovan said. “They asked us for the information. We provided the information and they told us this is where we’re going.
“If you look at the weather, the patterns and the information we’ve been provided by the experts, this is the best window to not only play the game but to commute to and from the game.”
The time change will make Chiefs-Steelers the first NFL playoff game to start after 7 p.m. Central on a Sunday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It will follow the NFC playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers in Arlington, Texas, which begins at 3:40 p.m. and will air on Fox.
The Truman Sports Complex parking lots will open at 2 p.m., club levels at 4 p.m., and all stadium gates will open at 5 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for the Kansas City area through Sunday evening, warning of a “dangerous and potentially crippling” situation with up to three-quarters of an inch of ice accumulating as the storm intensifies Saturday night.
The forecast for Sunday calls for warming temperatures and a change from freezing rain to rain before kickoff.
“Moving the game from the original start time will provide local authorities more time to clear roads in the area,” read a release from the NFL about the time change, “as the weather is expected to improve throughout Sunday.”
Donovan said the Chiefs and Jackson County Sports Authority have started pre-treating parking lots and gate entrances. The pavement will continue to be treated during the week and before and after precipitation.
Preparations also are being made inside Arrowhead to keep the walkways, aisles and stairs clear of ice, Donovan said.
The announcement caused a spike in secondary-market ticket prices.
On three secondary ticket markets, low-end prices for seats in some 300-level sections were $30 or less Friday afternoon. But after news of the time change, those prices had at least doubled. Ticketmaster’s lowest resale price was $68, StubHub was $70 and Overland Park-based Tickets For Less was $75.
Some of the coldest games in NFL history have occurred in the playoffs and were not rescheduled. But neither game involved freezing rain or sleet.
On Dec. 31, 1967, the “Ice Bowl” between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship at Lambeau Field was played in minus-13 degrees with a wind chill of minus-48.
On Jan. 10, 1982 in Cincinnati, the Bengals and San Diego Chargers played for the AFC Championship in minus-9 temperatures with a wind chill of minus-59.