KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It started with one baseball hat but ended with a basement full of memorabilia and a cross-country move.
Steve Lopez grew up in Azusa, California, home to Azusa Pacific University where Kansas City Chiefs great Christian Okoye played college football. Lopez met Okoye once and has been a Chiefs fan for more than 30 years now.
“A lot of people tried to convert me to Raiders fans and Chargers fan, but that wasn’t happening,” Lopez said proudly.
This summer, Lopez did the only thing which felt natural for such a diehard fan: packed up and moved his wife and three kids from Azusa to Lee’s Summit simply so they can live in Chiefs Kingdom.
The family is now 14 miles from Arrowhead Stadium, instead of 1,600 miles.
“Because everyone here is such a big Chiefs fan, for them [my husband and children] to get to experience it firsthand, it’s nice,” Stephanie Lopez, Steve’s wife, explained.
She admitted she misses her family in California, but has felt very welcomed in the Kansas City area. She's also enjoying less traffic and a slower pace of life.
Lopez had been planning the move for years. He turned Stephanie into a Chiefs fan, and of course, raised their three children to love the Chiefs.
Family vacations centered around attending a game at Arrowhead Stadium. On those trips, the family would check out the zoo and other attractions around Kansas City, while also looking for houses to buy.
Timing lined up this summer when Lopez had an opportunity to transfer within his company to work in Kansas City. Stephanie stays at home with the children who are all in virtual school.
If they so choose, the children can dial into class from the ultimate Chiefs “man cave.”
Lopez has covered the walls of the finished basement with Chiefs banners, pictures, flags, helmets, footballs and figures. The Chiefs ball cap he received as a 7-year-old also hangs on the wall, a reminder of how this journey began.
“It’s like we live in a house Chiefs players live in,” Lopez’s youngest daughter, Sophia said.
She and her older siblings said they’ve enjoyed living in Lee’s Summit so far.
“It’s really nice and there are nice people here,” Natalie, the oldest, said. “We like it.”
When the Chiefs kickoff against the Cleveland Browns in Sunday’s playoff game, you can bet the Lopez family will be huddled in the basement watching the game, happy to be in Chiefs Kingdom.