Shoveling dirt to make room for Chiefs summer turf

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A year from now, when students are moving into the residence halls and freshmen are gearing up for Griffon Edge, there will be a happy buzz floating around Western as the high from the Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp begins to settle in.

Construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 29 for the new indoor practice facility that w

ill be home to the Chiefs t

hree weeks a year. Construction of the $10.3 million facility is expected to be complete by summer 2010, just in time for the camp to begin.

Missouri’s elite, Gov. Peter Kinder and Sen. Charlie Shields joined Kansas City Chiefs President Denny Thum with Western officials at the groundbreaking in June. Western’s President Robert Vartabedian and Dirck Clark, president of Western’s board of governors, both spoke at the groundbreaking about the long road it took to get the Chiefs to Western.

“This certainly did not happen by chance,” Vartabedian said. “It took a lot of people and effort to make this happen.”

Vartabedian said the camp will bring a wonderful partnership between the city and county.

“I could not be prouder or happier to be here,” Kinder said. “This is a great day for St. Joe and a great for Missouri and I feel proud to have had a small roll in it.”

Kinder noted that the project had finally been secured because of Shields’ persistence and continuing negotiations. Shields said that over the past 25 years St. Joe has lost many great icons including Quaker Oats, Mead and Stetson.

“This community needed a new identity,” Shields said. “Despite all that, we can be very, very proud today to say that St. Joseph Missouri is the summer home of the Kansas City Chiefs and that is our new icon.”

Standing in front of nearly 250 people at the groundbreaking, Thum said he was glad to bring the Chiefs back to Missouri.

“If this is just the beginning of what it will be like at training camp, this is going to be very, very special,” Thum said.

Clark said that since the start of bringing to Chiefs to Western in Aug. 2008, there have been many opportunities to give-up. But since they never did, he said he sees great things for everyone.

David Williams, athletic director also spoke at the groundbreaking on the two things the camp is intended to bring to Western and the community. The first goal 

is to improve the facilities on campus for all the athletes and students. The second is to create an economic impact within the city.

“For three weeks out of the year I want [people] to refer to them as the St. Joe Chiefs,” Mr. Williams said.

All across campus different preparations are being made from food to parking and housing arrangements for the Chiefs.

“It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity for the city and the university,” Vartabedian said. He said that when he talks to students and parents interested in Western or who are already decided upon going to Western he can see the Chiefs camp resonates with them. With an estimated 6,000 students enrolled for the fall semester, Vartabedian won’t attribute the impending camp to the increase but did say, “It certainly didn’t hurt.”

The Chiefs will return to Missouri for the first time in 20 years and Western will serve as the fifth training campsite in the 50-year history of the football team.

Crossland Construction from Columbus, Kan., is the general contractor selected for the project. Crossland is working with 11 local subcontractors for the job. Construction of the facility has caused some closures around the Spratt Stadium area including the wood-chip walking trail. Western athletics said detailed information about fan parking and access during home sports events will be announced later. More information on closures and construction can be found at http://www.gogriffons.com/Construction.asp.

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