The relationship between the Kansas City Chiefs and the people of Kansas City can be attributed, for the most part to three men – a robust mayor, a former All-American football player, and one of the nation’s leading Chamber of Commerce executives. They were the key figures in events which culminated May 22, 1963 with the announcement by Lamar Hunt that he was moving his Dallas Texans to the Heart of America.
The story of the move actually began the previous winter when former Mayor H. Roe Bartle flew to Dallas with an invitation to a young Lamar Hunt to move his attendance-hungry Texans to football-starved Kansas City. It took a lot of talking to even interest Hunt, a Dallas native who had longed for a pro football franchise for his home town, but that was the popular mayor’s long suit.
The “Chief,” as he was known around town, in time convinced Hunt and General Manger Jack Steadman to come to Kansas City to survey the situation. Hunt knew that a continued battle for fans with the NFL’s Dallas Texans who shared the same stadium, the Cotton Bowl, would be an ongoing war and one that he was battling uphill against the older and more established league.
Traveling incognito, Hunt and Steadman came to Kansas City and one of their first conversations was with William E. Dauer, the Chamber’s aggressive young executive vice president. Without naming names, Bartle had asked Dauer in a phone conversation what he would do it the opportunity arose to obtain a pro football team. Dauer’s answer, which was relayed to Hunt and Steadman, was to institute a campaign to raise the necessary number of tickets. There would be no gimmicks, no overnight miracles, just thousands of man-hours of hard work by hundreds of citizens who would be anxious to know that the possibility of a pro football franchise for their city did exist.
Dauer was given the green light to proceed with a plan and the third member of the trio appeared ready to go. He was Ray Evans, a former collegiate football and basketball great, whose named was legend at the University of Kansas.
Evans agreed to suspend his duties as president of the Traders National Bank and joined Dauer in a full-time 90-day campaign to land the Texans.
Within three weeks they had raised over 1,000 workers who would fan out to Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma. (See early campaign literature in the Hall of Honor’s Lamar Hunt section) Locally, with the help of Vice Chairman Kenneth Krakauer and Mike McCormack, the men organized most sections of the business community for a month-long campaign to sell 25,000 tickets.
The weeks ahead consisted of hundreds of speeches to luncheons, dinner meetings, breakfast sessions, more than a dozen briefings to drive workers and key personnel, calls on top business and industrial firms – the list appears endless looking back on it now. (A talking points memorandum is on display in the Hall of Honor along with a campaign poster)
No one has ever estimated the man-hours involved but the figure even by today’s standards seem astronomical.
The drive never did reach its goal of 25,000 sales but their efforts the first month still topped season ticket sales of 13 pro football clubs for all of 1963 making it apparent that Kansas City would indeed support a team.
Lamar Hunt had offered Bartle, Dauer and Evans a significant challenge – maybe the largest of their careers – and fans of the Chiefs have these men to thank for the team they have today.