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Lamar Hunt Dies


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PS -- Mr. Hunt actually came up with the phrase "Super Bowl" to describe the final game of the year ... the AFC Championship Trophy is named after him ... etc ... He was a true innovator and will be definately missed here in KC.

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This sucks. Hate the Cheifs, Loved Lamar Hunt. The guy was a real pioneer and visionary, very old school right up to the end. I hope the Hunts are keeping the team in family and passing it along to somebody who will carry on his ways as opposed to sellign it to another Jones-Snyder.



His son will be taking over.



:D RIP Lamar :D



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Chiefs' founder Lamar Hunt dies

Visionary owner changed face of professional football


The Kansas City Star




Lamar Hunt was a sportsman. A visionary. An entrepreneur. A gentleman. And a bit of a rebel.


Hunt, founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and one of America’s most innovative and creative sports figures of the past half-century, died about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday at a Dallas hospital of complications from prostate cancer. He was 74.


Hunt’s decision to relocate the Dallas Texans of the fledgling and struggling American Football League and rename them the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963 helped establish the region as a major-league community and ensured big-time sports would continue here for generations to come.


His belief in Kansas City was rewarded by the club’s appearance in two of the first four Super Bowls, with the Chiefs winning the NFL championship in 1970.


“He changed our way of life,” said civic booster Bill Grigsby, a member of the Chiefs broadcast team since their arrival. “Despite the fact it was tough going in the beginning, he hung in there and has done so much for Kansas City.


“He has given the people here something to hang on to and enjoy. Our life would not be the same without that man.”


Hunt was stricken with prostate cancer in September 1998 and underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments. In October 2003 he had surgery to remove the prostate gland.


“We are very grateful for the thoughts and prayers we have received over the last few weeks and we ask that our privacy be respected in this difficult time,” said Clark Hunt, one of Lamar Hunt’s four children and Chiefs chairman of the board.


“Information on memorial services will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Heart of a Champion Foundation.”


Hunt was one of the creators of the AFL in 1959 and was a principal negotiator in the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1966. He was credited with coining the term “Super Bowl” for what’s turned out to be the country’s most-watched sporting event, with the name coming from his children’s toy “Super Ball.”


Hunt also was a driving force in the creation of the Truman Sports Complex. The twin-stadium idea of Arrowhead Stadium, completed in 1972, and Royals Stadium in 1973 was years ahead of its time and later replicated by other cities. Hunt, in concert with the Royals, spearheaded a public initiative during 2006 in which Jackson County taxpayers approved a 3/8 -cent sales tax to help raise $575 million for renovations of Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums that will begin in 2007.


However, he was disappointed in the failure of a second initiative of $202 million that would have financed a rolling roof and fulfilled Hunt’s dream of nearly 40 years ago, when the stadium complex was designed, of bringing a Super Bowl to Kansas City.


“I would hope the dream of the rolling roof and the Super Bowl for Kansas City can be kept alive,” Hunt said at the time.


Fred Arbanas, a Chiefs Hall of Fame tight end and now a Jackson County legislator, not only played nine seasons for Hunt, but also worked with him on pushing through the stadium renovations and said Hunt never lost his humble nature.


“He was a real gentleman and a tribute to the game,” Arbanas said. “A lot of owners have been boisterous and arrogant. You never saw Lamar that way. All the trips we took on airplanes, Lamar would be helping serve food to the players, bringing them drinks and picking up the trash. He just pitched in. …


“He’s not going to be forgotten. He’s done too much for this community. The community has put out a lot of money for his football team, too, but he also took a big chance and spent a lot of money in this community.”


Hunt not only made Arrowhead Stadium a showplace for NFL games, but also was at the forefront in bringing big-time college football to Kansas City. Arrowhead has been the site for 16 college games since 1972, including four Big 12 Conference championship games and several interconference matchups such as Kansas State-California and Florida State-Iowa State.


“In so many ways, Lamar Hunt made our city major league,” said Kevin Gray, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission. “He took a gamble in bringing his team to Kansas City, and the overwhelming admiration that people have for him is remarkable.


“We take many things for granted, and we have been so blessed to have not only the finest owner in professional sports, but unquestionably one of the classiest individuals I have ever had the pleasure to know in this business.”


Clark Hunt, 41, will oversee the family’s sports interests.


Although Hunt never lived in Kansas City, he contributed significantly to the area’s economy. Hunt, as chairman of Dallas-based Unity Hunt Inc., a large, diversified private company, also owned Hunt Midwest Enterprises, located within an underground business complex in Kansas City.


Hunt Midwest Enterprises developed two multimillion-dollar recreational theme parks in Kansas City: Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. Both parks were sold in 1995. Hunt Midwest also is the key corporation in the development of the Kansas City International Foreign Trade Zone and owns a limestone rock mining company.


“He was not just a Dallas Texan,” Grigsby said. “He’s a Kansas Citian. He left his legacy here.”




Hunt, born in El Dorado, Ark., at one time was one of the world’s richest men. His fortune, inherited from his father, H.L. Hunt, had its foundation in the oil business.


But unlike some who inherit wealth, Hunt carved out his own niche. He became one of the world’s true sportsmen, changing the face of three professional sports in America through his founding of the American Football League in 1959, forming World Championship Tennis in 1967 and serving as a charter owner-operator of Major League Soccer in 1996.


Hunt was actively involved in the ongoing attempt to establish soccer as an American sport. He owned, and occasionally served as assistant coach of, the Dallas Tornado in the ill-fated North American Soccer League. His family oversaw the operations of three franchises in Major League Soccer, the Kansas City Wizards, FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew. The Dallas and Columbus franchises play in two of the country’s pre-eminent soccer-specific facilities built by Hunt Sports Group.


The Wizards won the MLS championship in 2000. The Hunt family sold the club to Kansas City interests in August.


Hunt also was a minority owner of the Chicago Bulls, two minor-league baseball teams in Dallas and Fort Worth, and at one time sought to purchase the Washington Senators baseball team and move them to Dallas. Later he made an offer for the Kansas City Royals.


But it was professional football where Hunt made his most lasting mark.


Hunt, whose childhood nickname was “Games” because he loved to invent contests, tried for several years in the late 1950s to purchase an NFL franchise. Like most young sports enthusiasts, the young Hunt pored over baseball box scores and football summaries. But unlike others, Games was fascinated not by home runs and touchdown passes but by the attendance figures.


“It was impressive to see 60,000 people had paid to see an event,” Hunt once said. “I always thought it would be a major challenge to maximize attendance. I always thought that if I had any skills in business, it was understanding how to sell tickets.”


For several years in the late 1950s, Hunt, a one-time backup end at Southern Methodist University, tried to purchase an NFL franchise to play in his hometown of Dallas and in his beloved Cotton Bowl.


But he was rebuffed on every front by the 12-team National Football League, including the Chicago Cardinals, who moved to St. Louis in 1960.


So Hunt decided to form his own league in late 1959. It changed the face of professional football.


Hunt and another Texas oilman, K.S. “Bud” Adams, who also failed in his attempts to purchase the Cardinals for Houston, met for the first time in 1959 and discussed their frustrations in trying to bring pro football to Texas.


“Lamar called and asked if he could come to Houston to have dinner with me, so I invited him down,” Adams said in a 2003 interview. “We talked for hours. We talked about the NFL not being interested in expansion.


“It wasn’t until I drove him back to Hobby Airport and, just as he was getting out of the car, he said, ‘Bud, I’m thinking about starting a new league. Are you interested in joining me?’ I said, ‘Hell, yeah.’ ”


On Aug. 3, 1959, Hunt and Adams held a news conference in Adams’ office in Houston to announce the formation of the American Football League. The first two franchises were the Dallas Texans and the Houston Oilers.


“I wanted to buy an NFL team real bad,” Hunt once said. “When I couldn’t get one, I started coming up with all kinds of ideas. I was on a flight one day when a light bulb came on. I realized there were a lot of people who had tried to buy the Cardinals, and if they were interested in moving the Cardinals to their cities, maybe they’d all be interested in forming a new league. At that point, I changed my whole focus.


“First, I went after Bud. I felt that it was very important to have a Dallas and Houston rivalry. They were probably the two ripest cities in America that didn’t have teams.”


On Aug. 15, 1959, the AFL announced four other franchises would be situated in Los Angeles, New York, Denver and Minneapolis. Though Minneapolis backed out when promised an NFL franchise for 1961, the AFL added Buffalo and Oakland.


The original owners, dubbed “The Foolish Club,” put up $25,000 apiece and the league played its first season in 1960. Adams and Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson are the only survivors of “The Foolish Club.”


The established NFL soon retaliated by granting an expansion franchise to Dallas to compete with Hunt’s Dallas Texans.


It was during this time that Hunt’s sense of sportsmanship and fair play were firmly cemented. Hunt was offered several opportunities to purchase an NFL franchise, including a share of the expansion Dallas Cowboys by owner Clint Murchison. But Hunt would not abandon his seven partners in the AFL.


John Madden, who went on to a Hall of Fame career as a coach of the Chiefs’ archrival, the Oakland Raiders, expressed a debt of gratitude for Hunt’s efforts.


“I got my first coaching opportunity in the American Football League, and I know if it weren’t for Lamar Hunt there wouldn’t have been an American Football League,” said Madden, now a network television analyst. “Every time I ever saw him, I thanked him. Even when I was coaching the Raiders and we played the Chiefs or at a league meeting, I always thanked Lamar for what he did.


“When I knew the AFL was going to make it was after the first year of the AFL, and someone went up to Lamar’s dad, H.L Hunt, and said, ‘Your son, with this new league, has lost $1 million,’ and Lamar’s dad said, ‘Well, at that rate, he can only go another 100 years.’ That statement by Lamar Hunt’s dad said this AFL isn’t going to go away. That’s when the NFL realized that.


“Everyone who played or coached in the AFL and went on from there is indebted to Lamar Hunt. There are owners and there are top guys, and Lamar Hunt was a top guy.”




Hunt’s Texans shared Dallas with the Cowboys. But after three seasons — including an AFL championship in 1962 — it was apparent that Dallas couldn’t support two teams. Hunt investigated opportunities to move his team to several cities, including Miami, Seattle and New Orleans. Hunt wanted to find a city to which he could commute easily from Dallas, and when he was unable to secure Tulane Stadium because the university didn’t want its football program to compete with a pro team, he turned to Kansas City, where Mayor H. Roe Bartle persuaded him to move to the Midwest.


It was a negotiation conducted in secrecy. On several occasions Hunt and Jack Steadman, the team’s general manager, were in Kansas City and met with businessmen. Bartle introduced Hunt as “Mr. Lamar” in all the meetings with other Kansas City businessmen. Steadman was introduced as “Jack X.”


“I told the mayor that any leak would blow the whole thing,” Hunt said.


The move to Kansas City was cemented after a season-ticket drive sold 13,025 tickets. Hunt moved the club May 21, 1963.


Hunt, with a roster replete with players who had played college football in Texas, wanted to maintain a lineage to the team’s roots and wanted to call the club the Kansas City Texans.


“The Lakers stayed the Lakers when they moved from Minnesota to California,” he reasoned. “But Jack Steadman convinced me that wasn’t too smart. It wouldn’t sell.”


The team was renamed Chiefs — one of the most popular suggestions Hunt received in a name-the-team contest, along with Kansas City Mules — and began playing in Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium in 1963.


During the next three years Hunt was one of the main AFL negotiators with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Dallas Cowboys executive Tex Schramm in a deal that eventually led to a merger of the two leagues in 1966. That same year his Kansas City Chiefs won the AFL championship and played in the first professional football championship game between the two leagues. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chiefs 35-10.


Four years later, the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV and evened the record to 2-2 for the AFL and NFL before the merger was complete and interleague play began.


In 1972, he became the first “AFL man” elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. And in 1984, the league created the Lamar Hunt Trophy, which is presented annually to the American Football Conference champion.


Hunt also has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, United States Soccer Hall of Fame, the state sports hall of fames in both Missouri and Texas and the Texas Business Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Kansas City Business Hall of Fame in 2004.




A lesser-known side of Hunt is that he developed a taste for collecting fine art, especially by American artists. A favorite was Thomas Moran, a landscape artist. He personally studied each purchase before buying it, learning its history and the components of its values. Some of the paintings are in his home in Dallas, others in his apartment at Arrowhead Stadium. Some are on loan to museums in Dallas.


On Oct. 25, 1979, Hunt paid $2.5 million for a landscape painting by American artist Frederick Edwin Church called “Icebergs.” At that time it was the highest price ever paid for an American painting sold at auction. However, when Hunt got the painting home, he discovered that the painting was 9 feet by 5 feet — too large for the wall of his home. It was displayed at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, on loan.


He also was a man of simple pleasures. He was an inveterate jogger — though in the 1990s he more frequently indulged in power walking. But he and his wife Norma were familiar figures on the roadways of the Truman Sports Complex when they stayed overnight in Kansas City.


He had a weakness for ice cream sodas, satisfying a sweet tooth wherever he went. A refreshment booth at Worlds of Fun that serves lemonade is called “Lamar’s Libations” in his honor.


He also puttered around in the 11-acre yard of his Dallas home, trimming shrubs and pruning trees into the shapes of bears and elephants. Hunt told reporters that trimming the shrubs offered him some of his most peaceful moments.


Although he was worth millions, Hunt frequently carried very little money. On one trip to a Canadian city to attend a WCT match with reporters from the Kansas City area, Hunt chose to stop at a roadside eatery and treat the group. After ordering, however, he remembered he had no money and had to borrow money from the public relations director of the Chiefs.


Hunt was always self-effacing. Despite his accomplishments, his acceptance speech upon his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 was laced with his typical modesty.


“No one has ever benefited more from association with other men than I have,” Hunt once said. “From my father I received the basic desire to invest and to build in business. My wife and children have had the patience to serve as a sounding board for me and listen to my ideas. I have had the help of the personnel of the Chiefs — the front office, the coaching staff and the players.”


That remained true throughout his life.


He was a longtime proponent of a two-point conversion in the NFL and of moving the kickoff spot back five yards. When the NFL finally passed those rule innovations, others took credit. Hunt shrugged it off, knowing his end goal had been reached of making the game better.




No Hunt legacy would be complete without mention of silver. But Lamar Hunt played only a minor part in that drama. During the late 1970s, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Herbert Hunt tried to corner the world silver market. Lamar did not get involved with his brothers until late in the deal, but when the bottom fell out of the silver market, all three lost significant amounts of money.


The trusts of the three brothers — left from their father H.L. Hunt — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bunker and Herbert also personally filed for protection under Chapter 11.


Lamar did not file for personal bankruptcy, but did agree to pay $17 million to a state-operated mining company in Peru as his part of a settlement in a lawsuit against the Hunts.


Hunt was married twice. His son, Lamar Jr., and daughter, Sharron, are children of his first marriage. He married Norma Lynn Knobel, who was an American history teacher at Richardson High School near Dallas, on Jan. 22, 1964. They have two sons, Clark and Daniel. He has 13 grandchildren.







Born Aug. 2 in El Dorado, Ark.




Helps found the American Football League




Moves Dallas Texans franchise to Kansas City




Chiefs win Super Bowl IV in New Orleans




Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first AFL figure so honored




Becomes a charter investor in Major League Soccer

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