Early arrival encouraged for Thursday night Chiefs game

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL spotlight shines on the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday with a primetime nationally televised game at Arrowhead Stadium, and the circumstances pose a challenge for fans heading to catch the game.

Kansas City Chiefs president Mark Donovan discusses the team's preparation for the upcoming Thursday night home game against the Oakland Raiders during a press conference at the team's training complex on Dec. 5, 2016. (Photo by Matt Derrick, ChiefsDigest.com)

Kansas City Chiefs president Mark Donovan discusses the team’s preparation for the upcoming Thursday night home game against the Oakland Raiders during a press conference at the team’s training complex on Dec. 5, 2016. (Photo by Matt Derrick, ChiefsDigest.com)

“There’s a ton of traffic in this area on a typical Thursday night,” team president Mark Donovan said. “Add to that one of the biggest games in the NFL this year, and it has a recipe for having some real traffic delays.”

Weeknight games present a different traffic challenge from Sundays. The sports complex holds approximately 18,700 paved parking spaces. On a typical Sunday, the team parks about 20,000 cars.

The team parked more than 24,000 cars during the last weeknight home game against the Denver Broncos in September 2015.

Donovan said he expects traffic heavier than normal near the stadium throughout the day Thursday. The longest delays expect to begin after 3 p.m.

“What we’re trying to do is get people off the road,” Donovan said. “Whether you’re coming to the stadium or whether you’re going home to watch the game at home, get off the roads earlier than you expect.”

That messages extends to commuters not attending the game who normally travel through the Insterstate 70 and 435 intersection on Thursday afternoon and evening.

Fans traveling to the game can stay up to date on traffic updates via Twitter and Facebook updates from both the Kansas and Missouri departments of transportation.

Parking lot gates open at noon – that’s 7 1/2 hours before game time. Open parking will be available from noon to 1 p.m., with fans able to park anywhere they wish within their assigned lot. After 1 p.m., drivers will be directed to the next available parking spot as usual.

The stadium gates will open at 6 p.m. Doors to the club level open at 5 p.m. for those ticket holders. The Draft Room, a sports bar inside the stadium, opens at 4 p.m.

The weather forecast for Thursday night adds an additional complication. The National Weather Service forecasts a high temperature of 20 degrees for the area Thursday, with temperatures in the teens by kickoff.

The team’s pro shop opens at noon, offering a safe haven for tailgaters needing a break from the cold weather. A total of 40 stations inside the stadium will offer hot beverages and foods including hot chocolate, coffee and soup.

“Bring the extra layer, bring the hand warmers,” Donovan said. “Don’t show up predicting it’s not going to be as cold as it is.”

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.