ATCHISON, Kan. — Raven Nation will head to the home of the Chiefs this fall.
The Heart of America Athletic Conference officially announced Tuesday morning that Benedictine plays Baker at 7 p.m., Oct. 11 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
The games are part of the inaugural NAIA Gridiron Challenge at Arrowhead. The Benedictine-Baker matchup is the second game of a doubleheader as MidAmerica Nazarene plays Missouri Valley in the first game, scheduled for 3 p.m. the same day.
“This is a great opportunity to take the Baker-Benedictine game to an even higher level by playing this rivalry game at Arrowhead Stadium,” said Benedictine head coach Larry Wilcox in a press release from the HAAC.
Wilcox said he told his team of the possibility of playing at Arrowhead before the spring semester ended. He expected his team to get the official word through social media.
“I’m confident they’re going to be excited about what I think is a unique opportunity to play in an NFL stadium,” Wilcox said to the Globe.
Pittsburg State and Northwest Missouri State had played a yearly game at Arrowhead since 2002, but the series shifts to home stadiums after the 2013 contest. Wilcox said Gary Spani, former Chiefs linebacker and current Chiefs Director of Special Events, informed Benedictine that Lamar Hunt’s hope included Arrowhead would not only be the home of the Chiefs, but home to college and high school athletics as well.
With the Chiefs’ bye week falling in mid-October, the Oct. 11 games made perfect sense both from a timing standpoint and from the quality of teams involved.
“I think both of those (games) have been great rivalries over the years and you have four teams that have been in the mix in the conference championship repeatedly,” Wilcox said. “I think the Chiefs and the schools involved thought those would be good games to represent the quality football we have in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
“It was a no-brainer for us, and we would sure rather go to Arrowhead Stadium than Baldwin, Kan., as a change of pace.”
Benedictine, Baker and Missouri Valley shared the HAAC title during the 2013 season. The Ravens ended the season ranked No. 9 in the NAIA postseason poll, behind Baker (No. 5) and Missouri Valley (No. 7).
Wilcox said it isn’t known at this time whether this will be a yearly occurrence because the NFL schedule isn’t made until the previous season is completed but is hopeful Benedictine plays in Arrowhead beyond the 2014 game against Baker.
“The entire Chiefs organization is excited to host the inaugural NAIA Gridiron Challenge at Arrowhead Stadium,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said in a press release. “The caliber of teams that will take the field combined with the unique experience that only Arrowhead can offer will make this a great day for these schools, the student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
Each school also will begin ticket sales on June 26 and each will have an allotment of tickets to be sold through its respective athletic department. Chiefs season ticket holders will have access to tickets beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday. Public ticket sales begin two hours later.