All hail the Chiefs: Blunt approves $25 million

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Griffons can anticipate seeing red every summer when the Chiefs take to the Black and Gold’s field.cheifs

One of the last acts of Missouri’s Governor Matt Blunt’s legacy in office will contribute to the Missouri Western State University’s legacy, Blunt’s cabinet has approved the $25 million tax credit which will enable the Kansas City Chiefs to come to Missouri Western for summer training camp in 2010.

The $25 million tax credit will go to the Chiefs, but as a requirement of their request they have committed to donating $10 million to Missouri Western to fund the development of an indoor practice facility, a project which is estimated to cost $13.5 million.

“This is tremendous news,” said Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Western’s president said in a statement released by the university. “Hosting the Chiefs’ training camp would provide a great boost to the local economy, give thousands of fans the chance to see their team practice in person and raise the visibility of Western and the St. Joseph area for three weeks every summer.”

Western estimates as many as 100,000 fans could flock to St. Joseph every summer in the three-week timeframe.

Despite the $10 million tax credit contribution from the Chiefs, Missouri Western will still need to raise more funds in order to see this project through.

Last May a $5.6 million bond was approved that would be paid from the $500,000 in annual Max Experience fees.

Though money is not being diverted from the Max Experience fund, athletic director Dave Williams is quick to cite the program as one of the major factors that lured the Chiefs here to St. Joseph.

Williams believes that the ambitiousness of Western’s Max Experience development plans persuaded the Chiefs to reconsider training in St. Joseph.

The financial return from this endeavor is yet to be determined, but Western hopes to recoup costs.

“That’s the hundred thousand dollar question,” Williams said. “In terms of the annual return of things our goal is to have no current money from the general budget to pay for any new projects, which includes utilities and all the personnel associated with this new building.”

Williams acknowledges the current budget crisis and the issue of funding this project he states that the solution to this problem will be in creative fundraising. Plans to raise money include: renting out the facilities, holding events like flag football for the region, hosting an NFL scrimmage in the summer and adopt-a-Chief programs.

According to Williams, if fundraising does not yield sufficient funds, they will be forced to a contingency plan that involves using funds from general revenue.

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, was a major supporter in bringing the Chiefs’ training camp back from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to his hometown in Missouri.

“This is a win for the people of Missouri by bringing the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp to the team’s home state, helping local tourism and giving easier access for fans to follow the pre-season,” Shields said. “This facility and training camp will bring a new image for St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University, as well as help Missouri tourism as a whole.

Some of the greatest assets of the Chiefs moving their training camp to Missouri Western are the upgrades the campus will benefit from: an indoor stadium, something no one else in the MIAA will have, NFL quality rooms, new parking facilities upgraded weight rooms, meeting rooms, training facilities, a new concession stand and locker rooms.

As well as creating opportunities for the local economy, Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian is optimistic that it will benefit both the university and community.

“The KC Chiefs initiative should prove to be a major ‘shot in the arm’ for the university and the region. Not surprisingly, we are very excited about all of the possibilities,” Vartabedian said.

Many individuals contributed to the effort to accommodate the Chiefs’ training camp move to Western, as Shields points out.

“I commend Chairman Dirck Clark of the Board of Governors and Athletic Director Dave Williams for their hard work and commitment to helping bring this great opportunity and facility to the students of Missouri Western State University and the people of St. Joseph,” Shields said. “A state board has approved tax credits that are a vital step in securing St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University as the new home of the Kansas City Chiefs training camp.”

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