OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Anthony Oropeza still remembers the day Travis Kelce walked into his studio at the InterUrban ArtHouse in suburban Kansas City, where some of his acrylic and mixed-media works hung on the walls.
Kelce was helping to submit a grant for a community art center, and the first work that caught his eye was Satchel Paige, the Hall of Fame Negro League pitcher who later played in Cleveland, near where the Chiefs tight end grew up.
Later, Kelce saw Oropeza’s drawing titled “:13 Seconds,” depicting the dramatic end of a 2022 game against Buffalo. Kelce had a crucial catch to move Kansas City within a field goal of a tiebreaker in the divisional playoffs. then he caught a touchdown pass in overtime that sent the Chiefs back to the AFC championship game.
“There,” Kelce Oropeza said, “looks familiar.”
Oropeza’s work has attracted not only Kelce’s attention in recent years. He did commissions for Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals and the wife of former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. But the vast majority of his work focused on chiefs, which helped him supplement his 9-to-5 job at the local parks and recreation department.
“The success of the Chiefs, more specifically the success and greatness of Patrick Mahomes, definitely helped my career,” he said. “It helped pay for my children’s education. It helped me meet some of the best Chiefs fans around.
Indeed, the continued excellence of the Chiefs, who next Sunday play the San Francisco 49ers in their fourth Super Bowl in five years, has been crucial to the outcome of dozens, if not hundreds, of small businesses like Oropeza’s art studio.
In December, Econsult Solutions Inc. The Chiefs estimated the total annual economic impact on the team and Arrowhead Stadium operations, as well as the ancillary costs of non-domestic attendees of games and events, at a total of $1 billion.
“We are incredibly proud of our 60-plus year association with the Kansas City area,” Chiefs president Mark Donovan said in a statement. “We know that franchises and stadiums are key economic drivers.”
Not just for big companies, but for small t-shirt companies, bakeries and even local artists.
Take RAYGUN, an irreverent clothing company based in the Midwest, whose T-shirts feature cheeky sayings like “I cheered for Kansas City before it got cold” and “Go Taylor Swift’s girlfriend.” His relationship with pop superstar Taylor Swift has proven to be quite profitable.
Another local clothing company, Charlie Hustle, pays homage to him with hoodies and T-shirts that read “In My Red Era.”
Located in suburban Prairie Village, Kansas, Dolce Bakery has an entire Swiftie Collection of heart-shaped cakes, along with a broader menu of Chiefs-themed cookies and treats. The cakes were decorated to look like Mahomes, complete with his signature curly hair, and coach Andy Reid, who was quite striking with his mustache and glasses.
“January and February are historically quieter months for us,” said Erin Brown, founder of Dolce Bakery, “but these Super Bowl years have allowed our creative team to create the fresh-baked Chiefs designs that the Kansas City community loves.”
The nature of small businesses also allows them to turn around quickly. So when the Chiefs beat the Ravens to book their spot in the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Dolce made a “Welcome to the Kingdom” cake, but in the style of a “Welcome to The Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that greeted guests. to the Strip for more than six decades.
“As loyal fans ourselves,” Brown explained, “this has given us the opportunity to connect with our regular customers and reach new customers through our collective passion and support for the Chiefs.”
After the Chiefs beat the Bills in the divisional round, the bakers at Eileen’s Colossal Cookies in Liberty, Missouri, took notice when Kelce’s brother, Jason Kelce, famously took off his shirt and stormed out of his suite to celebrate. They decorated a cookie cake in the spitting image of the Eagles center, and pictures of it posted on social media quickly went viral.
Another bakery, McLain’s, saw Reid’s mustache freeze during the Chiefs’ wild-card win over Miami, the fourth-coldest game played in NFL history.
So they started offering a slightly tweaked version of their Reid-inspired cake called the Andy Reidcicle Cake, where his mustache looks like an icicle.
These are just some of the small businesses that have benefited from what has become a powerful Chiefs industry.
“It helped me help my community as well,” added Oropeza, an artist who visited Kelce’s studio that day. In addition to original work, he does live drawings for charities, and some of his Chiefs-related pieces have sold for thousands of dollars.
Oropeza admitted, “The highlight of it was when my daughter met Travis that day, surrounded by all my drawings. Meeting him put the biggest smile on her face that I’ve ever seen. And as a father, having your child smile like that makes all the late nights – 4-hour nights of sleep. – and made all the other sacrifices over the last 10 years worth it.
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