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Victory for New Stadium

DATE OF EVENT: Aug. 12, 1972

DATE PUBLISHED: Aug. 13, 1972, in The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: When city planners started looking to replace Municipal Stadium, they laid out two possible sites: One in wide-open Leeds, southeast of downtown, and one in the Central Business District, just south of what is now Bartle Hall. Wary of the $21.7 million price of the downtown plans, the city chose Leeds for the site of the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex. The choice moved more city attractions away from downtown. Arrowhead Stadium opened in fall 1972; Royals Stadium, later to become Kauffman Stadium, opened in spring 1973. Both opening-day games were victories for Kansas City.

Cheered by a crowd of 78,190 fans, the Chiefs took 21 points in little more than three minutes of the second quarter and went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 24-14.

After seemingly endless delays and fears that the stadium might not be ready, the team opened Arrowhead Stadium on schedule and returned the Governor’s Cup to Kansas City.

When the touchdowns began to roll in, the keepers of the stadium’s fancy scoreboard flashed out a message to the fans: “How Sweet It Is.”

That was the general feeling last night — that after five years of difficulties the stadium was open at last.

Inside that huge bowl packed with humanity, some were as ecstatic as the minister who gave the invocation:

“We stand in amazement at the grandeur and greatness and beauty of Arrowhead Stadium.”

Others, like Marty Mardiak, a Raytown concrete truck driver, were merely enthusiastic.

“It’s the best in the United States,” Mardiak said, glancing at the pillars, columns and floors that were poured in part from his truck. “It’s here to stay a long, long time.”

Still others, who were involved in its creation, looked it over last night and judged it worthwhile.

“We could have done it differently,” mused Charles E. Curry, former county official who had a major role in starting it, “but it is a nice thing.” More than five years and $59 million in public funds have been invested since the people of Jackson County voted to build it in June, 1967.

An official crowd total of 78,190 packed the stadium to watch a dedication ceremony that preceded the Kansas City Chiefs game against the St. Louis Cardinals. …

The politicians and other honored guests circled the playing field in antique cars before gathering on the field for brief opening ceremonies. …

(Chiefs owner Lamar) Hunt told the crowd it was a proud day for the Chiefs organization, its architects and engineers, the sports authority and Jackson County. He asked the construction workers who had participated in building the stadium to stand and receive the cheers of the crowd.

Hunt then said it was his privilege to declare Arrowhead Stadium open and a reality.

The aura of good feeling on the opening night brought together people who had battled over the project in the past. The setting was the unfinished “sales suite” of the stadium, where elegantly dressed guests stood on a floor between walls of raw plasterboard as they ate and drank. …

While V.I.P. accommodations are incomplete, most of the public facilities at the new stadium are finished. The new concession stands did a heavy business, with regular hot dogs going for 40 cents and the giant size for $1.

Jim Bussard, who formerly sold beer at Municipal Stadium, viewed the new one last night as a fertile field for profit. He said experienced vendors should earn $80 a night. …