When ESPN decided to try something new with its “Monday Night Countdown” pregame show, the network sought a place with a great tailgating atmosphere to see how it worked.
Kansas City was the choice.
So, ahead of the Chiefs’ game against Washington on Monday night, ESPN will roll out a new “tailgating hour,” and a number of network personalities will be in the Truman Sports Complex parking area.
“Honestly, I think it’s the best-smelling parking lot that I’ve ever been to in any NFL stadium,” Seth Markman, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer, said. “It’s caught all of our attention, to be honest, over the the years.
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“So we decided that as great as the atmosphere is inside of Arrowhead, when we go on the air and it’s 5 o’clock local time and the game doesn’t kick off until 7:30, let’s be where a little more of the action is to start the show and do some special stuff around that and get some of the Kansas City fans involved instead of being inside an empty stadium.”
ESPN will have a 24-foot by 24-foot demo field set up in Lot D, and that’s where the pregame show will be held from 5 p.m. until 6:15 p.m., when the hosts will head to the stadium. ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson and Steve Young will be taking part in the parking lot.
Markman said all the details haven’t been finalized, but they want the country to see Chiefs fans.
“Randy Moss and Charles Woodson will take a tour of the tailgating scene,” Markman said. “They’ll be out touring and who knows? Tasting some barbecue and having some fun with fans. This just gives us a way to have the fans as close to us as possible.
“I think there some interaction. We’ll figure out all the content pieces of it, but it won’t be just stand here and watch the show. We want to be as interactive as we can be.”
The “tailgating hour” will be done just four times this season: both Chiefs games (Oct. 30 is the other night) and in Green Bay (Nov. 6) and Seattle (Nov. 20).
Other NFL cities didn’t have what ESPN was looking for in this case.
“ Monday Night Football’ is a big deal in Kansas City, and I think some cities, I’m not going to name them ... it’s treated like any other game,” Markman said.
“I’ve been to Kansas City. I don’t know if places let their employees get out early or schools let out. It’s a great scene. It really is one of the great scenes in football. That’s why we specifically picked out Kansas City, because we feel like it’s going to be a big deal and fans are going to be excited to be a part of this. It’s not like this everywhere.”