Chiefs have started process of expanding their reach into St. Louis

The Chiefs are courting St. Louis football fans and corporations a year after the Rams left the city for Los Angeles.
The Chiefs are courting St. Louis football fans and corporations a year after the Rams left the city for Los Angeles. The Associated Press

When the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and team president Mark Donovan made it clear they were interested in expanding the Chiefs’ brand to the other side of Missouri. But they also simultaneously expressed the need to be “respectful” and “patient” because of St. Louis’ grieving process for the Rams.

But now a year has passed, and the Chiefs are continuing the path to court St. Louisans.

“Our radio broadcast did great and our preseason TV (games) were the highest-rated in the market,” Donovan said Tuesday at the NFL’s annual meeting.

While all four of the Chiefs’ preseason games were shown in St. Louis, only some of the club’s regular-season games were shown, as the NFL decided to temporarily divide the market among the Chiefs and the other three franchises closest to St. Louis: Chicago, Tennessee and Indianapolis. All of the Chiefs’ regular-season games were aired on radio in St. Louis.

“But we had the most games shown throughout the year, and the market did great ratings,” Donovan said. “So that worked.”

Predictably, the Chiefs have seen an increase in season-ticket holders from St. Louis, Donovan said.

The Chiefs have also seen an increase in ticket purchases from groups and corporations, which Donovan has taken as another indicator that St. Louisans are at least intrigued by the possibility of following the Chiefs.

“We think that’s a really good, strong (sign) that they want to test it, that they want to see if they like it, before they do a season ticket (package),” Donovan said. “And that is our wheelhouse, that’s what we want. Get people to Arrowhead and then wow them with the experience, and they’ll come back. So that’s a good sign.”

Another good sign, Donovan added, is that the Chiefs have built business relationships with corporations in St. Louis, many of whom used to spend marketing dollars with the Rams.

“We’re further along in some of those discussions,” Donovan said. “It’s about not doing a bunch of deals, but doing the right deals … and we’re heard (from) a lot more St. Louis organizations (who are) reaching out to us, saying ‘How do we get player appearances, how do we get Play 60, how do we get caravans to come to St. Louis.’”

A year ago, the Chiefs were not entertaining those discussions out of respect. Now, it appears, the market is fair game.

“We’re starting to take those (talks) more seriously,” Donovan said.