Chiefs training camp beneficial to all

By Mason Marshall

April 3, 2014

On Jun. 18 2009, it was announced that Missouri Western was bringing some excitement to the city of St. Joseph. Western was bringing the Chiefs training camp to campus, and the Chiefs would be closer to home. Originally, the training camp was located in River Falls, Wisconsin, and thus a long way  from Arrowhead Stadium. The contract that Western and the Chiefs signed was pretty basic. The biggest agreement on the contract was the description of improvements, which required the construction of the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex. The contract stated that Western would construct a climate controlled indoor football practice facility with artificial turf. Also included in the sports complex were high-speed Internet services, offices, theater style lecture room, showers, lockers, weights and equipment rooms. The contract also brought up two adjacent irrigated Bermuda grass practice fields with spectator seating for fans, as well as adjacent parking facilities. The indoor sports complex wasn’t just paid for by Missouri Western. Associate Director of Athletics for External Relations Brett Esely runs the facility during  Chiefs training camp. “The facility was roughly a 17 to 20 million dollar project when you look at the complex and the practice fields and some of the ascetic things throughout Spratt Stadium," Esely said. "The majority of that came through tax credits from the Chiefs and the State of Missouri. But the city and county pumped in some money as well and the university to a point.” Overall, the indoor complex has proved not only beneficial to the Chiefs, but for Western athletics. During the winter and spring seasons, conditions can get rough outdoors. So some of the Griffon teams, like golf, have taken to using the facility for practice during bad weather. Another interesting agreement made in the contract was food services. Missouri Western would provide meal services in Blum student union for all authorized Chiefs personnel. During training camp, the first floor of Blum is exclusively reserved for the Chiefs. Also stated in the contract is that the Chiefs have exclusive national and regional advertising and marketing. Western has local advertising rights within St. Joseph for the training camp. Kurt McGuffin, Western's director of athletics, knows who the main sponsors were for Western. The rules of sponsorship for Western are that they can have any local sponsorships, as long as they are not competitors with sponsors for the chiefs. “Heartland Health and American Family Insurance are the two major sponsors. We’re looking to get more, but we have to have that fine line," McGuffin said. "The Chiefs get so many certain sponsors and we have to be careful of who we use because it can’t be a competitor of theirs. The NFL sells Coke product and this campus sells Pepsi. So the drinks we sell at the Chiefs training camp have to be Coke product. With all of these agreements in the contract and both parties signing, it seemed to be a good idea to bring the Chiefs training camp to Western. Western student Matthew Hunt is a huge fan of the Chiefs,  and has been to training camp through of all of the seasons they’ve been at Western. “I think it’s a great idea to bring back the Chiefs training camp. I’m a huge fan of them, and enjoy being able to show support so close to home,” Hunt said.  “It’s also good for the city because there’s fans coming from different cities and states, bringing in revenue for the city. It’s even great for the team, at least I think, because they’re so much closer to home and the facilities offered by Missouri Western is perfect." In the long run, the move to Western was beneficial for both Chiefs and the school. “It’s been unbelievable," McGuffin said. "There’s lots of different reasons that I would say it was beneficial. One, with the help of the city, state and other donors, getting the facility that we have. Two, the national recognition. For Missouri Western to be on every national channel when they talk about the Chiefs training camp, they mention Missouri Western at St. Joseph, and you can’t pay for that exposure. And three, still being a good partner with our city is important to us. This is Missouri Western in St. Joseph, and anything we can do together with the city to market the city is very important. I think it’s been outstanding, and I hope we can continue to have them here.” The contract that was signed with the Chiefs was for five years at Western. The 2014-2015, season will be the fifth and last year for the Chiefs training camp at Western. However, this week, McGuffin and a member of the board of governors who helped with the first contract met with Chiefs officials to talk about a contract renewal. “The contract was five years guaranteed here at Missouri Western. The contract also states that we can renew every year after the five years. They can walk right now after five years, or they can renew and continue with new contracts,” McGuffin said. McGuffin and Chiefs fans aren’t the only ones hoping for a renewal as Esely also feels that the Chiefs returning could be beneficial. “It’s a good thing for a lot of reasons. For the first three weeks that they are here, I think the demographics would tell us, and this number may be a little high, but I would guess 60 to 70 percent of the people coming on a day- to- day basis are visitors from outside the St. Joseph community. Now, obviously those people are here for the Chiefs, but some of those folks might be perspective students down the road,” Esely said. “I think that’s key as the university continues to grow, and I think it’s also good for the community.” From a revenue standpoint, the training camp did have a positive outcome for Western. In the 2010 season, the total revenue made was $476,015.54. The expenses generated were $390,090.63. With a total of $85,924.91 in net profits, it was a positive year for Western and the Chiefs. Any revenue left over from the Chiefs training camp goes into the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex (GISC) and helps pay for maintenance. Most of the revenue made comes from sponsorships, parking, food service and tickets for special events. Most of the expenses are from MOA Salaries, student personnel who work for the Chiefs camp, supplies and rent. In the 2011 season, $368,823.58 was generated in revenue. Expenses cost $341,687.27, leaving a profit of $27,136.31. The 2012 season was the biggest revenue-maker, with $465,942.96 made and $371,749.00 spent. Total net profit made ended up at $94,193.96. Last season, $442,835.20 in revenue was brought in. Expenses were $411,142.91, leaving a profit of $31,692.29. The GISC has already been paid for, and any revenue left over from the training camp helps pay for the costs for running the facility, as well as maintenance. So with a brand new facility for Griffons athletics to use and the Chiefs moving to a closer area, as well as St. Joseph hosting fans from different places, it’s safe to say that everyone benefited from the Chiefs training camp.