Not that scheduling college football games at Arrowhead Stadium was ever a simple task. Take Thursday for instance.
On the day that the Chiefs and Missouri jointly announced a game for next season — Brigham Young in November — the NFL team had another piece of news to deliver a few hours later.
The Fall Classic, the annual Division II contest involving Northwest Missouri State, had to be relocated from Arrowhead to Maryville, Mo., for fear of the teams damaging the field the day before the Chiefs-Seahawks clash.
Saturday’s game-time forecast calls for snow and sub-freezing temperatures late in the evening. The NFL wagged its finger, and the Chiefs, Northwest and Washburn, set to play in its first Fall Classic, scrambled for a solution. The game will be played at Bearcat Stadium.
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The MIAA teams are tentatively set to play at Arrowhead next year as well, but that game falls on the day of the Mizzou-BYU game, so an alternative will be considered.
Even with Thursday’s announcement, finding college football opponents for Arrowhead, especially from power five conferences, is more difficult for Kansas City than at any time since the first major teams battled in 1998.
Then, Nebraska needed a goal-line stand to hold off Oklahoma State in a spectacular, sold-out setting. Over the next few years, the matchups were usually superb or of strong local interest. The second-largest crowd in Arrowhead history, 80,537, watched Missouri beat Kansas in 2007.
But circumstances have changed over the past few years. For starters, there is no more Big 12 Championship Game. The Chiefs and the city put in their bids and were rewarded with more games (five out of 15) than any other venue.
Conference affiliations are different, and so are nonconference scheduling philosophies. League television contracts can become a sticking point in neutral site meetings.
Also, the NCAA once allowed teams to play an additional game in a licensed “classic,” and Kansas City made sure it got its hands on as many as it could get: Kansas State-Iowa in 2000, Florida State-Iowa State in 2002, K-State-California in 2003. Those extra games no longer exist.
Add those entanglements to the standard conflict of school and community — no business owner that depends on Saturday game day traffic wants to lose a home game, not to mention inconveniencing the students — and it’s easy to understand why it took Missouri three years after first talking about bringing a football game to Kansas City to make it happen with Thursday’s announcement.
It’s a good matchup, especially for one of those late-season nonconference slots that appear on every SEC schedule. Last week, league teams tangled with Presbyterian and Tennessee-Martin. The week before, Old Dominion and Louisiana-Monroe were part of the fare. Brigham Young is a solid opponent.
Other Missouri games had been discussed for Arrowhead. For a while it appeared the meeting at Arkansas State could come here. St. Louis also became a player for that game but the sides couldn’t agree on terms and it will remain in Jonesboro next year.
The obstacles haven’t prevented the Chiefs and the Kansas City Sports Commission from trying to land games. Notre Dame has been contacted about an Arrowhead possibility. Nearly every school in the Midwest has heard from the Chiefs at some point.
The Chiefs would like to be part of the opening weekend rush. Games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Reliant Stadium in Houston and their Georgia Dome had the season’s early high profile games.
“Absolutely, we’d love to have a game there,” said Gary Spani, the Chiefs’ director of special events. “We sit at the corner of the Big 12, the SEC and the Big Ten. I think it’s feasible. But it’s not easy.”
The Chiefs and Kansas City will keep trying. Maybe Arlington can cede one. AT&T Stadium will host four major regular-season games this season, not including the first College Football Playoff title game.