There were so few fans at the Kansas City Chiefs’ first football game in their new home at Municipal Stadium in 1963, head coach Hank Stram suggested his team should just go shake the hands of the 200 fans who showed up.
During those times, linebacker Bobby Bell would then walk back to his car that was parked in the yard of a nearby homeowner. He’d pay a couple of dollars per game to park there, and then a couple more to make sure the car was still there when he returned.
Fifty-six years later, nothing remains of Municipal Stadium. Instead, a small memorial to Kansas City sports sits at the corner of 22nd and Brooklyn Streets where the stadium used to stand.
And another monument was added on Friday afternoon when the Chiefs unveiled a new plaque dedicated to their time in Municipal Stadium. Bell, a three-time pro bowler who won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs after the 1969 season, was one of several former Chiefs players to unveil the plaque.
“This is a long time coming, man,” Bell said while wearing his retired No. 78 jersey. “The thing is, we started here,” he continued. “Although (the Chiefs) started in Dallas, this is where they made their name, here in Kansas City. It’s just unbelievable.”
The plaque unveiling wasn’t the only big moment for the Chiefs on Friday night, as less than one block over, the Lincoln Prep Blue Tigers competed on their brand new football field.
With help from a $250,000 donation from the Chiefs and the NFL Grassroots Foundation, Lincoln Prep was able to build its first-ever home football field.
“As we celebrate our 100th season, we were looking to give back to our community and our neighborhoods and find a place where we can leave an impact,” said Chiefs president Mark Donovan.
“With our history in this neighborhood, it obviously made sense to come here and be a part of putting this field in place. In celebrating coming back here and being part of the team to put this field in place, it’s something we’re very proud of and humbled to be a part of,” Donovan added.
Lincoln Prep becomes the last high school in the Kansas City Public School district to have a football stadium of its own.
“We finally have something to call our own,” said one student, while another said the field would push Lincoln to perform better athletically.
The building of the field comes not only from the Chiefs, but the local community and alumni including Miami Dolphins defensive end Charles Harris.
“I can surely say to every single one of you that schools can’t do it alone without having a community wrap its arms around the system,” said KCPS superintendent Mark Bedell. “And this is an example of what can be done when we come together.”
Lincoln Prep (6-0) wasted no time in breaking in its new bright blue turf, and defeated East High 27-7 in front of a soldout crowd on Friday night.
East (1-5) scored the first official points on the new field, taking an early 7-0 lead, but quarterback Howard Brown III was the first Blue Tiger to score points in front of the home crowd. A 6-yard scramble by Howard signaled the first of four rushing touchdowns on the night, as Lincoln rebounded to take a 13-7 lead into halftime.
A scoreless third quarter was promptly followed by an explosive fourth quarter in which the Blue Tigers awarded the fans who stuck around in one of the first cold nights of the season.
A further rushing touchdown from Lincoln was then followed by a blocked punt and an ensuing touchdown as Lincoln spent much of the final quarter in East’s half.
“Lincoln now has their home stadium that’s a phenomenal addition to our facilities,” Lincoln Prep Kristian Foster said. “And quite frankly, our student-athletes deserve this.”