SAINT JOSEPH, Mo. — With veteran players reporting to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, the Kansas City Chiefs are back for their 13th year of training camp in Buchanan County.
It’s a relationship between the team, city and school that brings tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars to the small city every summer.
The last few years have been a cruel irony for St. Joe, which expected massive crowds after the team won the Super Bowl in 2020, only to have two years of COVID-restricted camps and seasons cut into how many people were able to come to training camp and what they were able to do.
“We’re really excited the Chiefs keep coming here,” said Mike Cundiff at Hunterland Antique Mall.
“The excitement is pulpable because the downtown area gets more traffic.”
That’s why the antique shop has a large banner out front and a team memorabilia table right by the front door, trying to lure in fans off the sidewalk.
The foot traffic is important for the business community that relies on getting people in the door during the months when the weather is a bit nicer. That pressure is even greater during the three -to-four weeks that the Chiefs training camp pulls fans into St. Joseph.
“So much of business is seasonal but we can count on more traffic here in town as people also explore,” Cundiff said.
The St. Joseph Sports Commission Director Brett Esely tells FOX4 that pre-pandemic studies showed more than 60,000 fans came to St. Joe over 3-4 weeks for training camp, spending an estimated $5.3 million at local businesses.
It’s a big boost that hangs in the balance as the team decides if it’ll keep going to Missouri Western for camp.
The Chiefs first started going to MWSU in 2010 and renewed their deal in 2020, keeping the team in St. Joe through 2022, with a team option to extend for two more years.
“There’s a lot of excitement in this town,” said Chiefs President Mark Donovan.
Donovan said the team enjoys getting out of KC for camp, and the town enjoys being their getaway.
“Every time I’m here, wearing [Chiefs gear], people stop me and want to say, ‘Thank you, and we’re excited to have you here,'” Donovan said.