ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs will be staying at Arrowhead Stadium and hold training camp at its practice facility this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It ends a 10-year run of trips to Missouri Western University in St. Joseph.
The NFL issued a memo earlier this month asking teams to keep travel to a minimum. The Chiefs then submitted a detailed appeal to the league to try to still head to Missouri Western.
The but team announced in a statement Wednesday “as conditions have evolved nationally, we have decided that our best option is to conduct training camp at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex this season.”
After a Super Bowl Championship, Missouri Western was gearing up for swarms of fans this year for training camp. Approximately 400,000 have gone through the gates the past 10 years, including a record 63,000 last year.
Construction of new seating areas was planned this year, with the expectation of even more fans. Upgrades were also planned for the dorms where Chiefs players usually stay in late July and early August.
It’s unclear how much the change will cost the city of St. Joseph, as no study on the economic impact of training camp has been conducted.
“Collectively, as small business owners, we are all holding our breath, and now we are kind of gasping at sadness knowing that they aren’t going to be here this year,” said Timmy Lawrence, owner of the Muni Inn, near Missouri Western.
“But player safety and fan safety is more important right now. Just to have a season is what everyone is hoping for because we need some sense of normalcy right now,” he added.
Mayor Bill McMurray said St. Joseph was planning a “Red Rally” welcoming the Super Bowl Champs and likely would have granted the Super Bowl MVP or Head Coach Andy Reid a key to the city.
“It would have been a great experience, but I just want them to win again in the Super Bowl, and we’ll all have this again in the summer of 2021,” McMurray said.
“We appreciate the overwhelming support of Chiefs Kingdom and the St. Joseph community and look forward to returning to Missouri Western State University in preparation for the 2021 season,” the statement from the Chiefs said.