KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – It was a homecoming 220 days in the making. That’s how long it’s been since the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV.
Thursday night, the reigning champs hosted the Houston Texans, ready to run it back. Even with a limited capacity, an estimated 16,000 fans were allowed into Arrowhead Stadium.
The ongoing pandemic has weighed on everyone, but for many Chiefs fans attending the NFL season opener, begin back at Arrowhead was a welcome distraction.
“We’re home,” one fan said. “That’s the feeling.”
It looked and felt different, but Chiefs football is back, and fans didn’t let the gloomy weather keep them from a socially distanced tailgate.
Thousands of fans packed into the parking lots outside Arrowhead before the game. Fans were asked to stay in the area behind their vehicle and only tailgate with people in their seating pod.
“I thought the odds of us even getting to come to the game was going to be almost none,” Chiefs season ticket holder Dave Bowman said.
He and his wife Candy were at the game with their friends. Usually, they’re known for sharing shots with fans in the parking lot as they tailgate. This year, they used a remote control car to share their alcohol.
“We decided to pass our jelly shots, social distancing jelly shots,” Bowman said.
Countless grills sizzled with hamburgers, brats and chicken, or maybe bruschetta if you’re like Nicola Gilardi and his crew.
“Tailgating is one of the most important things of the game,” Gilardi said. “It’s when you get to be with your friends before the game.”
Rose Baynham, a lifelong fan, showed up in her best Chiefs get-up.
“It’s all Hollywood, baby. All day long. All I do is Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs no matter what,” she said.
While the mood was festive, some fans didn’t like how close tailgating spots were to one another. Season ticket holder Colin Laughlin pointed out that only 16,000 fans were allowed to attend the game, but the parking lot can hold well over that.
“We were socially distanced, and they made people move to slam their cars in this small area,” he said.
He’d like to see a change for future games.
Criticism aside, these members of the Kingdom were just thrilled to see the Chiefs play.