KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs' decision to sell tickets for the NFL's season opener, a prime-time game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium, had little to do with money the team might make, team president Mark Donovan said.
"The numbers don't pencil out," Donovan said Wednesday. "You can't really make the numbers work when you're talking about that amount of tickets. So this isn't about that. This is about creating an experience and continuing the experience at Arrowhead, giving our fans the opportunity to be there for some really special moments. To some it may sound a little bit contrived, but honestly, we're raising a banner on Sept. 10. We want our fans to be a part of that. We're really struggling with the fact only 16,000 are going to be a part of that live and in person. That's a lifelong memory.
"It's going to be different. It's not going to be exactly what we wanted. But it is something that was really important to us as a franchise, and I will speak for the Hunt family on that. That was a big driver: Figure out a way to get our fans in safely because they need to be a part of this."
The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs plan to sell about 16,000 seats, or about 22% of the stadium's capacity.
The game is scheduled to be the first in U.S. major pro sports with fans attending since the start of the pandemic.
The Chiefs will ask their fans to follow normal safety protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing.
"We take the responsibility very seriously," Donovan said. "We understand that we've got to get this right and that we've got to be very diligent in our processes, in our protocols, in order to be successful, in order to have another game with fans. We know that other teams and other leagues are going to be looking at us.
"What makes us comfortable is our plan. We are very confident in our plan, [but] our plan is only as good as compliance and the following of directions, the following of protocol for our staff, for our players, for our coaches, for our fans. It's critical that everybody follow protocols. If they do, we feel pretty confident that we can do this."
The Chiefs held a practice at Arrowhead this past Saturday that was open to fewer than 2,000 fans. They were spaced throughout the stadium, and although some wore masks, as required, others didn't.
The Chiefs will have another practice this Saturday at Arrowhead, this one open to a maximum of 5,000 fans.
"We'll have more people; we'll have more staff; we'll have more messaging," Donovan said. "You'll see some stuff this Saturday which is very in-your-face signage. We'll walk up and down the aisles with a little sign that says, 'Wear your mask.'"