Who da thunk it?

As communications director for the St. Joseph Visitors Bureau, it’s often difficult to take the time to really appreciate what my community has to offer.  Even I take for granted all of the wonderful museums, restaurants and attractions we have here.  So, when Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp began in late July, I knew I just couldn’t miss this opportunity to see my own community shine.

The community as a whole has been working non-stop to ensure the inaugural season of Chiefs Camp is a success, but of course, we heard all the comments:  “Can St. Joseph really handle the Kansas City Chiefs?” “Is the Training Camp going to be as nice as it was in River Falls, Wisc.?” “Is it really worth the drive all the way to St. Joseph to see the Chiefs?” “Where IS St. Joseph anyway?”

Thousands of fans have visited Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp in St. Joseph.

Well, we’re half-way through the 22-day camp, and I can honestly say, without hesitation, St. Joseph as a community is getting it done.  It’s truly an amazing facility at Missouri Western State University.  There are two meticulously manicured outdoor practice fields, abundant fan seating, great selections of food and drink, and even a free kid’s play zone.

The stadium has never looked so amazing, not to mention the state of the art indoor practice facility that is rumored to be the best in the League.  But is it living up to the fans expectations? After all, it would be the anticipated plethora of Kansas City Chiefs Fans who would ultimately determine our success.

So far the feedback has been beyond positive.  More than 2,000 fans

Missouri Western's Spratt Stadium has been awash in red during Chiefs camp.

attended camp the first day, even while weathering a mid-summer monsoon.  The first evening practice brought in an unprecedented 8,000 fans to Spratt Stadium, and Family Fun Day saw 10,721 eager fans seeking team autographs in 90-plus degree heat.  Our restaurants and museums are reporting record crowds to their facilities before and after practice times.  Though some challenges have been faced, immediate changes have been made to accommodate the fans and the team.  Overall it has been a very positive and collaborative experience between everyone involved.

Some Chiefs fans have questioned if the hour drive from Kansas City to St. Joseph was really worth the trip.  But as one Facebook fan from Texas said, “An hour drive…are you serious?  We came from Dallas and I planned our vacation around training camp.  A true Chiefs fan will drive where ever they have to…Go Chiefs.”

Written by Beth Conway, communications director for the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau.  For more on St. Joseph and Chiefs camp, please visit www.StJoMO.com.