Ricardo Santibanez had the surprise planned for Monday, a day after his father’s birthday. Here’s how he envisioned it unfolding: He would tell his dad to check his backpack, and his father would open the bag to find a gift.
The two residents of Puebla, Mexico, a few hours from Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, have long talked about wishing they could attend a Chiefs game, but they’re unable to afford travel to Kansas City. The schedule had lined up so perfectly this year: The Chiefs were coming to them.
“More than anything, it was a moment that I looked forward to sharing with my dad,” Santibanez said in an interview with The Star. “This is a huge sadness of the cancellation of the game here in Mexico. We don’t have the possibility of leaving the country to see a game of my Chiefs.”
The combination of a rainy season, a new hybrid grass-synthetic field surface and recent concerts prompted damage to the field that “presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game,” said Mark Waller, the NFL executive vice president of international.
The site change triggered an emotional effect for Santibanez.
It prompted a financial effect for many others. Fans from Kansas City and beyond had already booked airfare and lodging and were scrambling Tuesday for a Plan B.
Mostly without success.
Dirk Seager, a Chiefs fan who lives in Springfield, was told his $1,400 hotel stay in Mexico was completely nonrefundable. An attempt to switch flight destinations from Mexico City to Los Angeles would have cost another $350. So rather than attending the Chiefs game, he and his brother will be watching from a bar in Mexico City.
“It’s just really annoying,” Seager said. “The NFL, Chiefs and Rams promised us something, and we made the decision to go. We held up our end, and they’re not delivering on theirs. It’s six days before the game. You shouldn’t get ready to go on vacation, ready to go have a fun time and then have to deal with this.”
Brian Stewart, another Chiefs fan, was more than just ready to go.
He’s already there.