Chiefs reach deal returning training camp to St. Joseph for 2018

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have reached an agreement keeping the team’s training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., for the 2018 season on the campus of Missouri Western State University. Club and school officials announced the deal Thursday, which includes a mutual option for the 2019 season.

Aug. 3, 2015; St. Joseph, MO; Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston signs autographs after a training camp practice at Missouri Western State University. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Both sides continued expressing optimism of returning the team’s training camp to Missouri Western despite longer than anticipated negotiations. Team president Mark Donovan said in August the club hoped to announce its plans within a few weeks after the end of this year’s camp.

“The school has been really, really cooperative,” Donovan said. “We went back and forth on a few little things this offseason to make sure that it was good for them and good for us, and came to a great conclusion so we’re excited about that.”

The club and the university agreed to costs reductions for rental equipment and labor expenses as part of the agreement to cut the team’s operating costs.

The team relies on facilities, equipment and staff provided by the university for three-week camp including dormitories for coaches and players along with vehicles and training equipment. The university also makes campus employees available for security, meal service, housekeeping, stadium operations and more.

The 2009 agreement that returned the team’s training camp to Missouri from Wisconsin included a five-year term with five additional one-year options. The  team agreed to a three-year extension in 2015 in exchange for the university utilizing $300,000 in tax credits along with $600,000 in contributions toward building the two grass practice fields on campus. That agreement included mutual one-year options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

An agreement appeared close with both sides expressing optimism. The Chiefs also made no moves toward making their training facility at the Truman Sports Complex suitable for hosting training camp. The team committed to the state of Missouri to keep its training camp within the state for a 10-year period, which concludes are the 2019 season.

That team’s training facility in Kansas City appears the biggest competition for the university and St. Joseph beyond 2019. More and more NFL teams are bringing their training camps from third-party sites to their own training facilities. Donovan in the past said the team continues to explore off-site options, but none yet pose serious competition to holding camp at Missouri Western.

“We love Missouri Western,” Donovan said. “We love the town, we love the people, we love the school, we love the structure that we have up there. As you guys know dealing with coach, we love the consistency. That’s a big plus. So we’re excited to get back.”

University president Robert Vartabedian said in August that more than 250,000 people have attended training camp in St. Joseph since its return to Missouri in 2010. He said in that he’s proud of the relationship the university has built with the Chiefs during the past eight seasons.

“Our campus and the St. Joseph community take great pride in hosting the Chiefs, and I’m pleased they will return in 2018,” Vartabedian said.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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