Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization officially dedicated the Founder’s Plaza at the New Arrowhead on Friday. Providing a grand entrance to the north side of the stadium, the open-air plaza available to all fans on game day documents Hunt’s legacy as a founding father of American sports and welcomes fans to the New Arrowhead.
“Lamar Hunt’s innovative spirit and creative vision helped transform professional football into America’s passion,” Goodell said. “The legacy of the American Football League and Lamar’s many contributions are richly preserved at Founder’s Plaza. He would undoubtedly be humbled by this magnificent tribute and take immense pride in the forward-thinking design of the New Arrowhead that reflects his lifelong commitment to the fans.”
“Our vision for Founder’s Plaza was to create a space where future generations of Chiefs fans could learn about the founder of their team,” Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt said. “For all of his accomplishments, he was a fan first, and he always looked forward to spending time with Chiefs fans on game day. He made a habit of walking the parking lots and welcoming the Arrowhead faithful to the stadium he loved so much. His presence on Founder’s Plaza will invite fans to the New Arrowhead, and we hope it becomes a favorite spot for our fans to gather on game day and enter the stadium together.”
A heroic-sized statue of Hunt created by noted sculptor Bruce Wolfe was unveiled by members of the Hunt family, including Norma, Clark, Lamar, Jr., Sharron and Daniel, who all worked intimately with Wolfe to help render likeness of the late Chiefs patriarch. The base of the statue celebrates Hunt’s legacy as a fan, a visionary, an innovator and as a humble leader. The sculpture of Hunt is among Wolfe’s litany of many prestigious works that also includes statues of former Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher, as well as former Secretary of State George Shultz.
The engaging plaza features many other unique and notable design elements. Eight fountains represent the league’s original franchises with the Eastern Division teams on the east side of the plaza and the Western Division teams on the west side. Decorative blocks on the rims of the fountains denote the dates that each franchise was officially ushered into the AFL. At the center of the plaza is a large AFL logo laid in a field of light and dark granite pavers. The logo features the initials “LH,” in Hunt’s honor, and is similar in design to the patch on the Chiefs uniform that serves as a tribute to Hunt.
The plaza’s football shape reflects the Vince Lombardi Trophy honoring Hunt’s tremendous influence on the Super Bowl. Hunt named the game, recommended that the NFL enumerate each game with the now-iconic Roman numerals and asked Commissioner Pete Rozelle to name the championship trophy after Vince Lombardi. The plaza also includes a three-dimensional diagram of Head Coach Hank Stram’s famous “65 Toss Power Trap” from the Chiefs 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV, dubbed by Hunt as “the signature play in Chiefs history.”
Bronze plaques located throughout the plaza highlight Hunt’s innovations in professional football, soccer, tennis and business. These plaques are surrounded by 5,393 customized bricks with messages from Chiefs fans. Sculpted earth berms frame Founder’s Plaza with indigenous plants that will turn red and gold in the fall, paying a respective nod to the Chiefs primary colors, as well as Hunt’s passion for landscaping.
Nicknamed “Games,” during his childhood, Hunt’s love of sports was his true lifeblood, an enthusiasm which led to his involvement in six different professional sports leagues and seven sports franchises. In total, Hunt has been selected to 11 “Halls of Fame.” Despite his many accomplishments, Hunt’s humility was one of his most unwavering and most endearing traits. While he modestly declined to take credit for his efforts, he truly played an important role in the design, ongoing development and direction of the modern-day National Football League.
Founder's Plaza (PDF)