Kansas City Chiefs

Hey, Chiefs fans: The plan to sell old Arrowhead Stadium seats is nearing goal line

Right now 30,000 old seats from the upper deck of Arrowhead Stadium are piled up in 27 semi trailers at an Olathe storage lot. They could be headed to the homes of Chiefs fans by fall.

Two months after setting on a controversial course to sell the seats, Jackson County is mum on how many bids it has received from companies interested in arranging the sale of the dismantled seats.

But according to one of the bid finalists, Dan Sprinkle of Stadium Seat Depot, three companies are scheduled for final interviews Wednesday to help decide who will get the job of reassembling the seats and selling them to the public, with Jackson County residents getting first preference.

A top county official confirmed the interviews will take place, but the county will not disclose other information until a contract has been awarded.

Sprinkle said he anticipates that whomever gets the job “will be wanting to get them out to the public here in the next two or three months.”

In others words, near the start of football season, when interest in the seats will be at its highest.

The county put out its request for qualifications on the seat project April 25. Bids were originally due May 21. Then the deadline was extended to May 28 without explanation.

But clearly there was no shortage of interest from firms that specialize in reselling stadium seating or sports memorabilia. Records on the county’s website show the answers to several questions purportedly posed by potential bidders, who were not identified.

Q: “How many seats are undamaged?”

A: “This number is unknown.”

Q: “When were the seats installed”

A: “... at various times. Some seats were installed as long as 20 years ago. Others are replacement seats for seats that were damaged or broken.”

The documents show that of the seats the Chiefs yanked out of Arrowhead, the majority are in good condition. The ones classified as bad either have broken parts, are faded or have rainwater in them. Damaged seats most likely will end up at the recycling center, which was where most of them were headed before the county jumped in.

The Chiefs had embarked on its seat replacement project without consulting Jackson County, which owns Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium at the Truman Sports Complex.

As part of $11.5 million in stadium upgrades this off-season, the Chiefs are repairing the concrete in the upper deck, which did not undergo extensive renovation when the rest of the stadium was redone a decade ago. The Chiefs, who are putting in new, slightly wider seats with cup holders, had planned to trash most of the old ones.

The team planned to sell a few thousand of the seats to fans as a reward for renewing season tickets. But the Chiefs dropped that idea after County Executive Frank White’s chief of staff, Caleb Clifford, objected. Those seats belonged to the taxpayers of Jackson County, not the team, he said.

The county hired a storage company to move the seats from Arrowhead’s parking lot to their current home, where they have been sitting since early April.

It cost taxpayers $43,000 to move and store the seating parts for three months. But White and Clifford say the county will more than recoup its investment by selling the reusable seats to fans, with one or more firms with expertise in this area doing all the work. The winning bidder or bidders must do the work in the metro area, providing local jobs.

“Jackson County anticipates that this will be a revenue generating project for the county,” according to the request for qualifications, and will “award a contract or contracts to respondents proposing the highest and best prospects to repurpose seat components, provide opportunities for Jackson County residents, and maximize finance return to the county.”

The payout could be sizable. Old stadium seats go for a few hundred dollars apiece in today’s market. In convincing county legislators to go along with the plan, Clifford said Harris County, Texas, grossed $1.5 million from selling 7,000 pairs of seats that were removed from the now-dormant Houston Astrodome several years ago.

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Mike Hendricks is a member of The Star’s investigations and watchdog reporting team. Send tips and story ideas in confidence by email to mhendricks@kcstar.com, Twitter direct message @kcmikehendricks, or anonymously via Signal encrypted message at 816-234-4738