Every Missouri Western student who doesn’t live under a rock is aware that Western is the summer home of the Kansas City Chiefs. We have been for nine years now, including 2018. And, if the extension is agreed upon, 2019 will make it 10. While the camp may seem like a big deal (it is), it might not be the best option for our school.
We’re well aware that this is a hot take, but hear it out. We all love Chiefs football just as much as the next person, but Western just isn’t really benefiting a whole lot from the camp anymore.
From 2013 to 2017, a span of five years, we have lost money rather than brought it in. In 2017 alone we lost over $35,000. How is this possible? Well, Western only makes a profit through parking, concessions and special events.
“In all honesty, we thought it might have a better financial payoff than it has,” President Robert Vartabedian said. “It really hasn’t been a cash cow, and we thought it might be.”
We can’t forget about all of the extra work it takes Western employees to set up and work the camp. Training camp lasts about three weeks, and staff members are expected to be there every day helping—without pay. It’s extra work by our school that isn’t benefitting students.
According to Athletic Director Josh Looney, the contracts with the Chiefs are more relationship-built. They also aren’t paying Western to hold their camp here. They have, however, poured millions of dollars into our athletic facilities, which I’ll get to later. If Western wanted to increase income, their only option really would be to host more special events to bring the fans in.
Hosting the Chiefs has largely been beneficial because of the $10 million Griffon Indoor Sports Complex (GISC). Now, this addition to campus at the beginning of the Chiefs agreements was huge, and has very positively affected our athletic programs across the board. But, here we are, almost ten years later, with the building still standing and completely paid for by the Chiefs. Yes, it was an incredibly nice thing for the organization to do for our school, but if we suddenly stopped hosting camp, the GISC would still be here and available to all students and athletes.
Also, nowadays, it seems that more professional teams are having their training camps at their stadiums, which would mean the Chiefs stay down at Arrowhead. Heck, there’s even been talk throughout the NFL about totally scratching the preseason games altogether. And, if either of these were to become a requirement, the Chiefs would obviously have reason to stop coming here.
Some might say that this is a great PR opportunity for Western. But, how much PR is it bringing our school really? According to the admissions office, there are no records of the camp helping with exposure or enrollment.
“I haven’t seen any direct correlation between the two, but hosting the Chiefs camp definitely gives us an exciting talking point when we are speaking with prospective students,” Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Retention Paul Orscheln said.
We’re not saying hosting the Chiefs is a bad thing. Vartabedian, Looney and Director of Athletic Facilities Mike Halloran think they’re great to work with. Being journalists, we think it’s pretty awesome that they’re here, too. We’re just saying that it might not be the worst thing for the university if the Chiefs were to, say, decide not to come back. The university would save money.
Correction: This submission was published in the April 25th, 2018 issue of The Griffon News wrongly attributed to Kaitlyn Doolan. This submission originally submitted by a journalism student in editorial style for JOU 302.