ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Sixty-three thousand people made the trip to Chiefs Training Camp last year.
It was the tenth straight year it was held at Missouri Western University.
Four blocks from campus, you can find the Muny Inn, a small bar in St. Joseph that every year marks the start of training camp with a t-shirt.
Plenty of fans, and even some players and staff, were known to drop by.
“We kind of know some of them through coming in and out through the years,” Muny Inn Owner Timmy Lawrence said. “It’s kind of small speck on the spectrum. But it was pretty cool.”
That’s why, outside of Kansas City, no place in Chiefs Kingdom might have been celebrating more when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl than St. Joe.
“You know this was the year that we thought we would have everybody and their brother coming from near and far to Missouri Western,” Mayor Bill McMurray said. “Oh what an experience. We had a Red Rally planned for downtown. There might have even been a key to the city in there somewhere.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, however, teams will conduct restricted training camps at team facilities this year – most likely without fans.
Missouri Western, with help from the city and county, had been gearing up for swarms of people trying to get a glimpse of the defending champs.
They also had planned construction of new seating areas and upgrades to dorms where the players stay.
No economic impact study was conducted before a deal was inked to keep the team at Missouri Western through 2022.
“From a quantitative standpoint, the excitement in town, all the red all over the place, people smiling, a nice spring in their step and everything, it really adds a lot to the city and to the college,” McMurray said.
Like the rest of the businesses still trying to recover from losses during the shutdown, the owner of the Muny knows it will hurt his bottom line.
But it’s a kingdom made of Chiefs fans who understand safety of the players comes first, especially if changes to training camp means there’s an NFL season.
“More than anything I hope they can go back to back so we can celebrate twice as hard next year,” Lawrence said.