With a standing-room-only crowd filled with local dignitaries, student-athletes and Missouri Western administration, the City Council of St. Joseph voted in favor Monday night to help fund the Kansas City Chiefs training camp move to Missouri Western.
St. Joseph Mayor Ken Shearin made the announcement after the council voted.
“I’d like to give the council a chance to comment on what we just did,” Shearin said. “We just passed it in case you didn’t notice.” The packed house erupted into a minute long standing ovation.
The council members voted unanimously to provide $2.25 million to the university’s venture. The money will come out of the city’s emergency budget fund.
State Sen. Charlie Shields was in attendance and spoke on behalf of the project before the vote. At the end of last year, he had addressed the state senate in a similar fashion.
“They cast a unanimous vote on behalf of the state of Missouri and more importantly on the city of St. Joseph,” Shields said. “That is the position that you are in right now; to change St. Joseph forever. After your action tonight, 10 years from tonight citizens will look back and be thankful for the leadership of this council.”
Several key Missouri Western administrators addressed the council after the vote to express their appreciation to the city’s investment. Western Athletic Director David Williams spoke on behalf of the student athletes in attendance.
“This is the type of facility that will have an impact on every single one of our programs,” Williams said. “This is a first-rate facility that will help us recruit first-rate student athletes like the ones we already have.”
This investment came on the heels of the Buchanan County commissioner’s office announement that the county would be investing $1.5 million to the project. Some council members vocalized their frustration with the county’s investment.
“It still upsets me that we couldn’t get the county to get their share up to protect the taxpayers of St. Joseph’s money,” Councilman Gary Roach said. “I still want to stress to the people involved that you can save us a quarter of a million dollars. I am still for this 100 percent.”
After the initial excitement had died down, Missouri Western’s starting quarterback Drew Newhart presented a signed ball from Western’s football team to council member Roger Baker as a thank you for the council’s efforts.
“On behalf of the students and athletes we just want to say thank you,” Newhart said.
Head football coach Jerry Partridge echoed his player’s sentiments on how the new facilities would impact the players and the school’s ability to recruit new student athletes.
“You’re going to feel big time,” Partridge said. “The biggest thing is recruiting. When you are able to show these type of facilities to new student athletes it is a huge plus. It will make recruiting for us easier for sure.”
Though the nearly $15 million is nearly in place for this project, the architectural plans have not been finalized from Ellison-Auxier Architects. David Williams stated that these plans are still evolving, but the early June ground-breaking is still on schedule.
“The designs change every day,” Williams said. “We will probably be another three to four weeks until we fully know what they want. Once we make the major decisions, we will have the details down.”