It’s fairly apparent that the move of the Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp from River Falls, Wisconsin to St. Joseph has been a big hit with the fans. It seems to have given a big boost to Missouri Western State University as well.
Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian says the move gives Missouri Western great exposure, has created excitement and has a great potential economic impact. In fact, Vartabedian measures the impact on Missouri Western by what he calls the 5 E’s: exposure, excitement, enjoyment of the facility, economic impact and energizing recruitment.
He says the university couldn’t afford the exposure it has gotten from the news media. MWSU expected about 30 media outlets to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the camp. About double that amount attended. The coverage has been nearly universally positive.
Chiefs’ fans aren’t the only ones excited about the move. The community of St. Joseph has rallied around the camp. Signs welcoming the Chiefs adorn businesses throughout the city. There is more traffic than normal in the city, much more at certain times on certain days. Though students haven’t returned to campus yet, the mere fact that an NFL club trains at their school has brought its own amount of prestige.
“It energizes our recruitment like very few things that a university can do,” Vartabedian tells the Missourinet.
The new, indoor training facility is the focal point of the training camp. It’s off-limits during camp as the Chiefs are sequestered in the building. Outside the three weeks of camp, though, Missouri Western will use it and benefit from its full football field, locker rooms and accommodations that exceed what anyone might expect on the NCAA Division II level.
Then, there is the economic impact. Vartabedian cites a study that estimated the New York Jets training camp, which drew 34,000 fans, had a $4.3 million impact on the region surrounding State University of New York at Cortland.
“We’re thinking we will have at least twice that many spectators, I think eventually three times that many spectators,” Vartabedian says. “So you can just do the math on potential economic impact for the region.”
Vartabedian acknowledges there have been growing pains. The university first charged $10 for premium parking, but dropped that to $5. Officials expected about 5,000 for the first practice under the lights. Between 8-and-9,000 showed up. A record Spratt Stadium crowd of 10,700 attended scrimmage Saturday. [More photos]
A lot of high hopes and hard work accompanied the Chiefs to Missouri Western. Vartabedian believes it will be worth it.
“From my perspective it certainly has been worth it,” Vartabedian says. “And I hope when all is said and done, others will agree.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1:15 MP3]
AUDIO: Brent Martin talks with fans at Chiefs’ training camp [:60 MP3]