A photographer who worked for the Kansas City Chiefs for 40 years is complaining that the team misused his images. Hank Young says the Chiefs violated his agreement with the team's public-relations department when it used his photographs to enliven the concourses, entrances and other areas of the new Arrowhead Stadium.
Young's work with the Chiefs began in 1972, the year that Arrowhead opened. According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, Young was an independent contractor who "retained the right to permit or refuse the use of any photographs for non-editorial purposes."
Young granted the Chiefs access to his archives during the renovation, which included the construction of a hall of fame. Young says he was led to believe that his photographs were going to be used in the hall of fame in a way that was consistent with the license agreement.
Later, Young says, the Chiefs attempted to "coerce" him into signing over the rights to his photographs. The team gave Young a deadline of July 23, 2010, the day the press took a tour of the new Arrowhead.
Young, who lives in Fairway, took the tour. He says his images "permeate" the stadium. He estimates that he took at least half of the photographs that are used in artwork on walls, columns and banners.
As Young sees it, the displays violate the terms of his agreement because the images draw attention to concession stands and serve sponsorship deals. A photograph of the offensive line that Young took in 2004, for instance, is featured an a banner that stretches across a gate that Sprint sponsors.
Young alleges that he got a cold response when he went to the front office to talk about the way his images were being used:
Shortly after he learned that the Chiefs had made his artwork a central design aspect of New Arrowhead, Mr. Young requested a meeting with Mark Donovan, who is currently President of the Kansas City Chiefs. At the meeting, Mr. Donovan refused to even discuss the unauthorized use of Mr. Young's Photographs and told Mr. Young that he could not pursue a request for compensation for the use of his Photographs and continue as a game day photographer. Consequently, Mr. Young's forty-year relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs came to end.
In addition to the Chiefs, Young names as defendants the architecture and design firms that worked on the stadium renovations, as well as team sponsors Sprint, Time Warner and Hy-Vee.
The Chiefs declined comment. A spokesman says team officials are aware of Young's claim but have not had a chance to review the file.