The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the United States. Since late October, the seven-day average of new cases has remained above the second wave’s mid-July peak. On Monday, Kansas City, Missouri mayor Quenton Lucas announced new COVID-19 restrictions similar to those in place last spring. Both Jackson and Wyandotte counties have also announced new restrictions.
Still, according to Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, the team intends to host a limited number of fans for the season’s final three home games — at least for now.
“There’s been no discussion about changing the plans for the last three games of the season,” Hunt told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously, everybody in Kansas City is concerned with the spike in cases. We have a conversation with the health director — Dr. Rex Archer — on a weekly basis just to review what’s happened at our most recent games and what we can do to maybe improve the protocols on a go-forward basis.”
One of only five NFL teams to begin the season with fans in attendance for their home games, the Chiefs have been careful, limiting fans to just 22% of Arrowhead Stadium’s capacity and requiring fans to wear masks while sitting among “pods” of people they know.
Hunt said that making it possible to host fans during the pandemic was important to the team — and at least for the Chiefs, the decision wasn’t all about the money.
“Financially, it’s obviously better than having an empty stadium,” he explained, “but at the end of the day, it’s not a huge amount of money. I think really the bigger value is for the organization — for the team and the players. I think in having some fans in the stadium – and our fans as I’ve mentioned have done a great job of being as loud as they possibly can – makes it feel as normal as possible. It makes the players feel like we still have a homefield advantage.”
And Hunt said that the Chiefs are also thinking about next season.
“There’s some value in having fans this year as we look to next year because, unfortunately, I think COVID’s going to be with us for a while.” he noted. “But the fact that we were able to have some fans this year — maybe we can build on that next year once we get to the season.”
So for now, the Chiefs will continue to have fans at Arrowhead.
“Right now, our expectation is that we’ll have the same level of fans at those three games,” said Hunt, “but obviously with COVID, things are very dynamic.”