Super Bowl CFO: How finance supports the Chiefs’ on-field success

Hosted by Neil Amato

Making a run to the Super Bowl never gets old. That's one of the messages that Dan Crumb, CPA, CGMA, the CFO of the Kansas City Chiefs, shares in this episode of the Journal of Accountancy podcast.

The team has qualified for the Super Bowl three of the past four seasons, and Crumb encourages the members of his finance team to "step back and soak this moment in" — in between doing extra work in advance of Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.

From scouting database improvements to how COVID-19 changed stadium operations, Crumb explains more about the role finance can play in supporting a championship contender.

What you'll learn from this episode:

  • Crumb's recall of a conversation from three years ago for a podcast episode.
  • Why this season's run to the Super Bowl feels "electric" to Crumb.
  • Crumb's advice to his finance staff about recording and relishing the moment.
  • The role the finance team has played in streamlining a scouting database.
  • How game day operations have evolved since the COVID-19 restrictions on stadium capacity.
  • Why Crumb resists the urge to suggest plays to coach Andy Reid.

Play the episode below or read the edited transcript:


— To comment on this episode or to suggest an idea for another episode, contact Neil Amato at


Neil Amato: Hey listeners, it's Super Bowl week. Even at the Journal of Accountancy podcast, we are all in on the big game. This is Neil Amato with the JofA. For today's episode, I'm talking to a CPA who's very much focused on Super Bowl LVII in Arizona. Dan Crumb is a CFO of the Kansas City Chiefs, and he's our guest on the Journal of Accountancy podcast. Dan, good to talk to you again. Thanks for being here.

Dan Crumb: My pleasure, Neil. It's great to speak with you again as well. I see you remember, we maybe had one of these conversations about three years ago around this time.

Amato: It was, it was exactly about three years ago when we last spoke for a podcast. It was early in 2020. As you think about that, that was a long time ago, but it was as the Chiefs were making a run to the Super Bowl for the first time then in what had been about 50 years. Now it's 2023 getting into the Super Bowl. I don't want to say it's old hat, but it's becoming a pattern, third time in four seasons. First, how does that make you feel as an executive for the organization?

Crumb: Well, it's an amazing feeling, Neil. It's electrifying here. I relate back, I take a step back to 2020 — first time in 50 years that we were in the Super Bowl and thinking about how special that felt. It felt surreal as we were going through it and the buildup to the Super Bowl. It feels the same way. It just really feels electric, exciting. We have a number of new people in our organization that weren't here in 2020. I give them some advice. A couple of things I tell them is right after we won the AFC championship game here at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, I said this is the fastest two weeks of your life that's about to happen.

It moves so fast, you will be shocked. It's Sunday night now, and it'll be Sunday playing the Super Bowl before you know it. I tell them that and then I also tell them that this is a very special moment, very special place, a very special time for our organization. It's very busy. You're going to be doing a lot of work. You work in a lot of long hours, and we see it around the building. We see people are here, coaching staff doesn't even look like they leave. They're here just nonstop, we see all of our staff here very late.

But I tell them, take a moment here and there and just take a step back and soak this moment in and just realize how special it is. Just take the time and when you go down to Arizona and you're there on game day, make sure you take photos, make sure you record this, take pictures of it, and just realize how special this time and this place is in your life and in this organization's history. It doesn't get old, Neil. It's still feels as fresh and exciting as it did three years ago.

Amato: Exactly. You told me then that the role of the finance function is going to be the same if the team is going to the Super Bowl or not, whether it's 12-4 in the old 16-game model or not as good as that. But as you said, there is more excitement and more to do this February than in years where there is no Super Bowl trip. I guess it's good to be busy.

Crumb: Absolutely. There's that component of our work that doesn't change regardless, that we have to do whether we're 4-12 or these days, as you said, 4-13, 13-4 that stays the same, but there is extra work that we're doing, and it's really preparation for the big trip down to Arizona. There are teams, there are people that are going in advance and setting up and getting ready for the football team and coaches and players and all to be there Sunday night. There's a lot of preparation on our part. It's like a mini training camp that we're setting up in Arizona in the hotel. The coaches have meeting rooms, they have offices, they have all those things.

We actually set our network up in Arizona. The network we use over here in our practice facility is in use there, too. That way it's really seamless when the staff gets down there, they just connect, and it's like they never left this facility. There is that element of additional work, but we do the same core work that we do, but it gets a little bit more exciting I would say. When we encounter all these different requests and all the different things we have, and sure problems pop up. But this time of year, everybody – it's sort of the mantra – everybody says these are good problems to have.

Amato: Yeah, exactly. We are recording nine days before the Super Bowl, so right before the big one-week buildup to it. If you could revisit something you mentioned back in 2020 about how the IT department, which you oversee, created a scouting database. I guess that's really an example of being a data-driven finance function. Can you explain how that remains a part of what the team does and perhaps how it's improved and changed over the years?

Crumb: Sure. We initially built that system a number of years ago on the SharePoint platform, did all the programming and coding for it. It's in a constant state of evolution, and that's driven a lot by the football administration staff, the scouting staff. What are they looking for? What helps them do their job, and what makes their job easier? We actually have steering committee meetings, typically on a monthly basis, where IT, football administration, scouting, etc. We all get together in a big room and we just go through, here are things that we're looking at, here are things you asked us to do to the system. Here's what we've done, and here are some other things that we think may be helpful to you.

That open dialogue helps us. To that point, there was an advanced scouting report that one individual in the football department would do before each season. He would scout every single team we were playing, and he would assemble these reports that typically took three or four days to put together. Now, we connect directly to the source database and we pull that information, we reformat it, and we do it each week with the most current up-to-date info, and we do it for the game of that week in a matter of minutes. We've made it more accurate, we've made it more timely, and we've made it much easier.

That's what we're always striving to do is make that data as basically current as possible. Make it as easy to access and make it as relevant and user-friendly so that the football group doesn't have to worry about running reports. It's all there for them, it's preformatted. That's just one example.

There are a number of examples. We've taken different elements of the system and brought that into a mobile platform. Now they can access a number of things that they would have had to access before on their laptops, they can access on their mobile device. We're constantly evolving and looking at what do we need to do with this system to make it as user-friendly and easy as possible.

Amato: I guess you mentioned earlier setting up that network down in Arizona. I guess that's also an IT function that you oversee?

Crumb: Yes, that's correct. In fact, we sent two individuals from our IT department down on Wednesday. They got the network set up, we have two more going tomorrow to unpack all the truck. We sent a big truck down there to bring all the equipment. That's going to be unloaded and set up so that by the time the team arrives, they're going to just walk right in, and it'll be like they're at training camp or at this facility.

Amato: Obviously, the Super Bowl, it's a neutral site for the teams. But one thing that I think is really important to you and really important to the franchise is the atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium and the customer experience. You talked some about that before, and I was hoping you could talk about some of the ways that finance and some of those data-driven initiatives have helped improve that customer experience over the years.

Crumb: Sure. As a matter of fact, when we were going through COVID and the world was at a state of change and more open to change, we took that time to look at how we do things in the building and where are there areas for improvement. One of the things we've looked at, and it was driven by the way the world was at that time, was we went completely cashless. We don't take cash at all in the building. As a matter of looking at how we distribute our items, so thinking concessions. At that time, there weren't as many people in the building, so the lines were shorter, and the customer experience was better. It was quicker, but we had only partial buildings.

We took that same concept and asked the question, what if we went to mobile ordering so that now our customers can get on their mobile device, go through their Chiefs app and order, and then just go pick it up at a concession stand when it's ready so they don't have to wait? They can just preorder, go to the nearest concession stand and pick it up. That was a successful trial, and we've actually done it now to where we have at every game day, every event day, we have the ability to do that. We've also invested more in our loyalty club – our Chiefs Kingdom Rewards Club is what we call it. We look at that to get a couple of things.

One thing is customer buying habits. What are they purchasing? Just what customers are in the building? Where are they in their journey in the building? It helps to give us a real good feel for what they're doing when they're here, so that we can tailor the experience. Another way we're using data to improve is we look at individuals [as they] are driving into the complex, how they're getting parked. We look at how they get into the gates as far as once they park and then they walk in. We've got a control room where we have large monitors with all of these graphs that show scan counts live. As individuals are coming in the building, individuals are coming in the parking lot. We can match that up against previous events and see, are we trending the right way?

That tells us we're in good shape, we're going to get everybody in at our targets. Our target is always have every vehicle parked before kickoff and have every fan in the stadium before kickoff. We met that every game this season and we continue to. Those scans, that being able to see that data live tells us if we have to adjust something. If we see one gate is parking, tollgate is getting backed up, we can reroute traffic. If we see an entry gate is getting backed up, we can reroute those people, but it just enables us to really help and make sure that everybody is coming in on time and they can enjoy the full experience of our stadium.

Amato: That's a really good point because customers remember that. A game can be great, but if you happen to miss the first 10 minutes because there were some parking tie-up or something, you're not going to be as happy. That's a really good example of using data.

For all the armchair quarterbacks out there, I'm going to ask this question because you have all this data and I know you're maybe not in it, but you're overseeing it. You have all this data, the armchair quarterbacks want to know. Are you going to Andy Reid and say, "I think you should call this play"?

Crumb: Neil, I love the question. But, unfortunately, I don't think I'm quite there yet as far as ready to go to Coach Reid and offer up a play because he's such a creative individual. He's at a completely different stratosphere that I am as far as play calling. I think I would embarrass myself by asking that question. Because he's just so brilliant and so creative, and he comes up with plays that like the circle play and things like that that he's done, there are just plays that nobody sees coming.

Amato: Well, you know how to delegate when it's important for sure. Anything in closing and, obviously, I take it you're going to get to Arizona at some point in all this busyness.

Crumb: I will be going down next Friday, so I'll be down there for the weekend and just excited and ready to be down there and support the team and hope we bring back a Lombardi Trophy.