From the moment upon driving through the stadium entrances to walking around the parking lot, the color black wasn’t hard to find at One Arrowhead Drive on Sunday.
Any doubt “Blackout Arrowhead,” sponsored by the “Save Our Chiefs” movement, would only be supported by a small minority quickly disappeared.
The attendance announced for Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs was 63, 336.
And while the stadium appeared half full throughout the game, a good percentage of fans in attendance chose to wear black to mourn their beloved team.
Coverage of the grassroots movement, which originated the night of the Chiefs’ Week 4 loss against the San Diego Chargers, has grown with each loss.
The attention culminated in a virtual media blitz on Sunday from the likes of The Associated Press and FoxSports.com at the national level to local TV coverage.
• “Chiefs fans revolt against ownership, losing ways,” via the AP.
• “Chiefs fans wear black, keep feeling blue,” via FoxSports.com.
As for local TV stations reporting on “Blackout Arrowhead,” Kansas City’s major network affiliates were busy on Sunday:
• KMBC 41 Action News
• FOX 4
Other fans chime in
Manuel Ortiz, 38, was among the tailgaters dressed in black before he entered the stadium to watch the game.
“This is right way to do it,” Ortiz said on why he chose to support the blackout. “Fans are in the seats, they’re buying tickets, and they’re not just forming up in the parking lot and not paying. They’re supporting the team. This is a statement to the management and leadership of the Kansas City Chiefs that we’re not happy with how it’s going.”
Also dressed in black, Brian Kimble, 28, said he’s a lifelong fan and has attended numerous home games as a season ticket holder.
Like Ortiz and other tailgaters, Kimble said he fully supported the blackout.
“I’m for it because something has to change,” he said. “Right now, the fans are mad and eventually it will change to apathy like the Royals.”
Kimble added he’s never seen the frustration levels reach this point.
“I remember tailgating during the 2-14 season – Herm’s [Edwards] last year – I remember going to that Dolphins game and it was minus-10 degrees and there was maybe 10,000 people in the stadium,” Kimble said. “And I think now it’s more anger than frustration because if it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work.”
Nevertheless, as with any movement there are dissenting opinions.
Fans such as Robert Alvarez, 28, chose to wear red to support the Chiefs.
Alvarez, who makes the four-hour drive from Hays, Kan., to Arrowhead Stadium for home games, said he’s rooted for the Chiefs since childhood and admits he’s frustrated.
However, Alvarez said he didn’t approve of the “Blackout Arrowhead” demonstration.
“It’s disrespectful against the Chiefs,” he said. “Those are the kinds of guys who will go with the winning team when we’re winning. So to the guys wearing the color, our time will come.”
The dash for the exits started late in the third quarter with the Chiefs down 21-6.
It was a virtual ghost town by the time the Bengals scored the final touchdown early in the fourth quarter to go up 28-6, which was the final score.
However, a surprising amount of fans that remained until the end were dressed in black.
Manuel Ortiz was among them.
Asked why he chose to stay in his seat, Ortiz cited loyalty to a team he admires.
“You stay because you love the team,” he said. “You’d love to be able to say I saw this big play even if they’re trying to come back or even if they couldn’t win. It’s still that little remnant of hope. I don’t think people are abandoning the Chiefs. Fans still love the Chiefs.”
Meanwhile, two NFL team owners recently voiced displeasure over the struggles of their respective franchises.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) owner Shad Khan called the state of his team “embarrassing” two weeks ago, while Oakland Raiders (3-7) owner Mark Davis apologized to fans following the Raiders’ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
It’s been quiet out of One Arrowhead Drive.
The Chiefs haven’t publicly acknowledged the “Save Our Chiefs” movement, which has sponsored banners calling for the firing of Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli flown over Arrowhead Stadium in the last three home games.
Moreover, it remains to be seen if Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt will issue a public statement on the state of his team, who have lost seven straight games and currently sit on a 1-9 record.
Still, the current fan frustration and “Blackout Arrowhead” demonstration at least has the attention of cornerback Brandon Flowers.
“I definitely understand the frustration,” Flowers said after Sunday’s loss. “This is their team they love and they love watching, and they’re not winning. Who wouldn’t be upset? We’re not babies. We understand. We’re not winning, fans going to get mad. But we’re losing, so fans will continue to get mad. We have to find a way to turn this thing around.”