Local Chiefs fans got a treat this Valentine’s Day when Missouri Western announced it would continue to host Chief’s training camp for the next three years.
Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Josh Looney and President Matthew Wilson held a press conference Friday afternoon about the future of the camp.
While it was uncertain whether the Chiefs would return after the end of their previous agreement, Looney said the relationship with the franchise was positive and he was confident Missouri Western had put their best foot forward in negotiations.
“The Chiefs would not come back to Missouri Western and not come back to St. Joseph if they didn’t feel it was a competitive advantage,” Looney said. “I wouldn’t want to be the individual responsible for replicating what they have at Missouri Western if they were to go elsewhere.”
According to Looney, the new three-year agreement has options to extend an additional two years.
He said that attendance during the 2019 training camp doubled numbers from any prior year and even larger crowds are expected following the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win. Looney said that development of a new seating area on the north end of the practice fields will be necessary to accommodate fans.
According to Wilson, an estimated 65,000 fans attended the camp in 2019. Ben Rops, the transfer and articulation coordinator for admissions at Missouri Western, said this attendance could have long-term benefits to recruitment.
“One of the great things it does for this campus is it brings families, students,” Rops said. “People from all corners of the state not only tour campus; now literally all corners of the country tour campus.”
Chiefs camp has been a historic source of tourism for St. Joseph, and Mayor Bill McMurray said that the Chiefs camp was an opportunity for the world to get to know the city.
“They see St. Joseph: we’re not just a little backwater-somewhere, this is a great town with a fabulous history,” McMurray said. “It just raises the whole community up another notch or two.”