The summer of 2010 brought a red haze that spread throughout the city of St. Joseph, Mo. That year the Kansas City Chiefs relocated its summer training camp from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. Chiefs feverspread throughout the city and throughout the region to all of those fans who closets full of crimson clothing.
For over three weeks in late July and early August, approximately 60,000 fans settle in the stands or lounge on grassy hills overlooking Missouri Western’s football complex to watch their players gear up for the fall season. Half of these visitors make pilgrimages from other towns to see their Chiefs up-close and personal. They fill St. Joseph hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses in a sea of red.
The Kansas City Chiefs organization chose St. Joseph as a better location for its summer camp. Other cities vied for the position, but St. Joseph proved the most attractive. Thanks to cooperation from the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County, the St. Joseph Metro Chamber and others, Missouri Western was able to add a massive Indoor Sports Complex to its campus that includes a full-sized football field, a weight room, lockers, and offices all under one roof.
Chiefs fans are in red heaven when the camp is in town. Admittance to the complex is free on most days. After each practice, Chiefs players visit with the public and sign autographs. The Chiefs Kids Zone keeps little ones entertained with a rock-climbing wall, large bouncy houses, and other activities that let them burn off some energy like their favorite Chiefs players. The Missouri Western Griffon football team also provides a Gatorade Junior Training Camp for those youngsters a bit more serious in their sporting endeavors.
Not only do passionate fans benefit from Missouri Western’s partnership with the professional football team, but so do local businesses and organizations. At local hotels over those weeks, it’s common to be greeted by an employee sporting a Chiefs jersey or be welcomed by a “Chiefs fans” sign as you enter restaurants and other public places.
Local and regional vendors like The Truck Stop and Cappuccino Connections sell food and drinks to the crowds at Missouri Western. The St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mosaic Life Care, and American Family Insurance all also have substantial roles in those Chiefs weeks. The community embraces the three weeks of fanatical football frenzy as they recognize a boost in their business at summer’s end.
Some benefits branch out from helpful organizations to the rest of the community. The Community Blood Center of St. Joseph held its summer blood drive out amidst the crowd of Chiefs fans. Within that community of all different blood types (although they all bleed red for the Chiefs), visitors were able to help supply the community with life-giving support. As summer winds down, St. Joseph begins picking up steam for the fall. When the Chiefs Summer Training Camp comes to town, St. Joseph businesses put out the red carpet for their visitors.