When one sports team goes on a championship run, it’s not uncommon for other teams in the same city to express support, whether through social media posts or through players wearing the jerseys of the other team and showing up at games. On Sunday, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. The SHL’s Kansas City Smoke honored their football brethren by hosting a Super Bowl watch party in their arena after their matinee game against the New York Night.
“It was a cool cross-sport event, and I thought it worked out great,” said Smoke president Eddie Whitmore.
The idea for the watch party came together quickly after the Chiefs won the AFC championship two weeks earlier. In the wake of the win, some Smoke staffers consulted the schedule, and quickly realized that there was a home game scheduled on Super Bowl Sunday. It was due to start at 3 PM, which meant that the game would likely be ending around the time that the football game was kicking off.
“Obviously, we started worrying that people wouldn’t come to our game,” Whitmore said.
The team frantically explored its options. They considered pushing the game back to Monday, but the visiting Night nixed that idea. They considered moved the start time ahead to noon, but they had a game scheduled the night before.
At one point, a team marketing staffer jokingly suggested cancelling the game and just broadcasting the Super Bowl on the Jumbotron instead. This gave Whitmore an idea, and he quickly worked to make it happen.
The team dubbed the event “Super Sports-Tastic Sunday.” They moved the start of the Sunday game back to 1:30, and everyone who attended receive a rally towel that had the logos of both the Chiefs and the Smoke on it. The concession stands offered discounts on popular Super Bowl snacks such as wings, nachos, and chips. The crowd had a healthy portion of red Chiefs jerseys sprinkled among the gray Smoke sweaters, and Smoke goals and power plays were frequently accompanied by the Chiefs’ “Arrowhead Chop.”.
“It was a great energy,” said 36-year-old Scott Phillips of Independence, proudly sporting a Travis Kelce jersey in Section 122. “The whole city’s fired up, and this was a great way to pre-game.”
After the Smoke closed out their 7-6 loss, the PA announcer invited fans to stick around in the lower bowl to watch the Super Bowl. Several thousand fans did so; they were rewarded by appearances from the Smoke Show, the team’s cheer squad, as well as several players, who circulated through the stands offering high fives, autographs, and selfies.
“I thought it was an awesome way to watch the game,” said D Geoff Moultrie. “Just me, the guys, and a couple thousand of our closest friends soaking up the electricity.”
The Smoke may not have brought home a win, but the Chiefs did, coming from behind for a 31-20 triumph. As the final seconds ticked away, the fans at the Heartland Telecom Center began shouting and hugging. They then poured out of the arena into the neighboring Power & Light District, where they mingled with the fans who’d been at the outdoor viewing party there.
In the end, Whitmore proclaimed himself pleased with the event. “I’m glad we were able to turn our game into a big party and a celebration of both teams,” he told reporters. “I’m sorry that we couldn’t bring home the W, but the Chiefs came through. Hopefully they’ll be have a viewing party at Arrowhead when we make it to the Vandy!”