ARROWEHAD STADIUM – Over 100 season ticket holders got their chance to hold court with Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, General Manager Scott Pioli and President Mark Donovan Wednesday night at the Chiefs Back to Football Bash.
Hosted by “Voice of the Chiefs” Mitch Holthus in Arrowhead’s Club Tower East, the Q&A setting provided season ticket holders with an opportunity to ask any football or business-related question they wished.
Fan participants were selected by being the first to RSVP for the season ticket holder training camp event that took place August 15th in St. Joseph. Because of inclement weather on that date, the Q&A was moved to August 24th.
The 30-minute session featured a number of good questions that covered all aspects of the Chiefs organization. Here are four topics I found to be especially insightful…
On Aubrayo Franklin…
A fan-favorite emerges each offseason as it relates to free agency. For Chiefs fans, former 49ers NT Aubrayo Franklin seemed to hold that title without much competition in 2011.
Nose tackle was already viewed as one of the Chiefs primary offseason needs and, after Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith signed unrestricted free agent deals with other clubs, the need to fill the middle of Kansas City’s defensive line only heightened.
Though Franklin was one of the top available players at that position, the Chiefs chose not to pursue San Francisco’s former franchise player. Pioli explained the rationale behind that decision to season ticket holders Wednesday evening.
“Situationally, we focus on players that fit our type of system and we play a two-gap system (at nose tackle),” Pioli explained to season ticket holders. “Systematically, Aubrayo Franklin has spent his career in a one-gap system.
“Sometimes, taking a player and trying to fit them into something that they’ve never done in a system that they’re not used to…we felt there were some other players that had some background in our system that would be a better fit for us.”
The Chiefs found a prototypical 3-4 nose tackle in former Baltimore Raven
“Aubrayo Franklin is a good football player, but he didn’t necessarily fit what we were trying to do from a scheming standpoint,” Pioli said.
Franklin would go on to sign with the New Orleans Saints – a team that runs a 4-3 defense.
Arrowhead’s Bright Orange Seats?
I can’t count the number of times people have asked me why Arrowhead’s lower bowl is filled with orange seats, while the second and third decks are colored Chiefs red and gold.
My answer is always, “I honestly don’t know.”
That question was asked by a season ticket holder Wednesday evening and Hunt shed light on the background of Arrowhead’s orange seats.
“I’m going to have to pass the buck a little on that because I wasn’t around when the decision was made,” Hunt said laughing. “It certainly seems more logical to have (the decks) go red-yellow-red, but when the stadium was designed like that in the early 1970s it was a decision that my father had made. We’ve kept it that way out of tradition.
“It may be a tradition that we eventually change, but for the time being we wanted to stay in keeping Arrowhead the way it (originally) looked as much as possible after renovations.”
On The Schedule…
The Chiefs are going from a last-place schedule to a first-place schedule in 2011; literally.
With a schedule that features six playoff teams from last season and all four conference finalists, we’ll find out a lot about the overall state of this football program throughout the year. Both Hunt and Pioli agree.
“It’s one of the most challenging schedules in the league, but if you want to go where we want to go – which is to the Super Bowl – you have to be able to beat those teams,” Hunt said. “We’re going to find out early and often whether we’re capable of doing that and that’s ok with me.”
Pioli added, “There’s the saying that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. So, here we go…”
Variable Ticket Pricing
One season ticket holder asked a very interesting question about the business side of pricing football games. He noted that other leagues and teams, such as Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals, price “premium games” differently.
For football purposes, the fan threw out that an idea for the Chiefs – raise the ticket prices for games like the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, while lowering the price point for other opponents. In the end, total cost would be the same for season ticket holders, but supply and demand would be placed more appropriately for individual games.
Not a bad concept, but it’s not an option for the Chiefs.
“A lot of people in sports and in business would agree with the variable pricing model,” Donovan said. “It is a league-wide rule and there are restrictions in place that we have to abide by, and that includes standard pricing for every single game.”
Donovan believes that, for the time being, the standard pricing policy will remain in place across the National Football League.