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How best to experience the ‘barbecue haze’ tailgating at Arrowhead Stadium

We have tips from Chiefs’ tailgating pros — get there early, and hungry

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There are many reasons to love the home of the Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium (or GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium — its official name as of the 2021 NFL season).

At a recorded max of 142.2 decibels, Arrowhead Stadium is considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the loudest outdoor stadium in the world. The stadium also houses the franchise’s “Hall of Honor,” a 26,000-square-foot museum devoted to the history of the club, as well as the American Football League (AFL).

Outside the stadium sits a statue of Lamar Hunt, the team’s founder and a member of the “Foolish Club,” the founding group of the AFL. The stadium’s unique bowl seating had made it a destination for visiting fans even before the franchise’s recent success — hosting three straight AFC title games en route to a Super Bowl championship in 2019 and two straight trips to the league’s marquee game.

The Arrowhead culture of tailgating

If there is one distinguishing factor of Arrowhead Stadium — the thing that truly differentiates the experience from taking in the rest of the playing fields in the National Football League — it is the pre-game tailgating.

There is no aroma like the aroma of the stadium parking lot on game day. Riding up to the stadium from a distance, visitors enter what can only be described as a “barbecue haze” from grills that have been active since well before sunrise.

Kansas City is known for the many restaurants that offer their version of the regional favorite — a.k.a. barbecue — but what should be discussed more is what happens on fall Sundays at One Arrowhead Drive. Most tailgating parties have their menu well prepared days in advance. Some serve breakfast while others serve brisket. Others serve both.

The need-to-knows

The parking gates open up four and a half hours before kickoff. As alluded to above, many of the Chiefs’ fans (and thus tailgate diehards) arrive before the sun to ensure that they may return to their familiar spot where they can get the grill set up, the chairs out and relax while they discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the day’s opponent.

If you decide to tailgate at Arrowhead Stadium, there are some rules to follow. First, the actual parking spots are for cars (as can be seen in this diagram provided by the team). Once the car is parked, the tailgate can be set up adjacent to the vehicle in a designated area. This is also so vehicles will have space in case of an emergency.

Tailgaters must have tickets to the game. The Chiefs reserve the right to ensure that all guests who enter the parking lot have tickets to enter the stadium. The parking lots are cleared as the first quarter begins, so there is no hanging out in the lot during the game. All post-game tailgating is brief, as the lots close an hour after the conclusion of the game.

If you decide to drive to the game, be sure to plan for that in advance, as there are no cash purchases for parking at the gate. Parking passes can be accessed using the Chiefs’ mobile app.

Tips from the pros

We tapped into our Twitter following of 175,000-plus Chiefs fans to compile five pro tips to know ahead of your Arrowhead Stadium tailgating experience.

Pro tip No. 1: Get yourself a “camp toilet.”

Pro tip No. 2: (If you’re a visiting fan) Show up with nothing.

Pro tip No. 3: The earlier you do EVERYTHING, the better.

Pro tip No. 4: Think of the future you.

Pro tip No. 5: Make the necessary arrangements in advance.

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