During the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl campaign for the Kansas City Chiefs, thousands from the Chiefs Kingdom made their way to St. Joseph every day.
For nearly one month, record crowds watched Patrick Mahomes and company up close in-person in a setting only one-third of fan bases get. The getaway to Missouri Western won't happen in 2020, as the Chiefs announced Wednesday that training camp will instead happen at the team's facility in Kansas City, Missouri.
Reports first surfaced June 2, though neither party released a statement as negotiations with the NFL continued to try and forge a plan.
"When the NFL announced a new policy requiring all training camps to be held at team facilities, we looked at every avenue to return to Missouri Western State University, including making a detailed appeal to the league," the Chiefs said in a statement Wednesday. "We were looking forward to returning to St. Joseph as we prepare to defend our Super Bowl title, but unfortunately, as conditions have evolved nationally, we have decided that our best option is to conduct training camp at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex this season."
The Chiefs have held training camp away from their home complex every year since its founding. William Jewell hosted the team from 1963 until 1990 before the camp moved to River Falls, Wisconsin. The move to Missouri Western came in 2010.
Even though this season's preparation won't take place on his campus, Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Josh Looney takes pride in the relationship between both sides.
"(We) have a lot to be proud of, even with this cancellation. We were working in unison to explore every possible opportunity, including a formal appeal to the NFL that the Chiefs led to try and still have camp here," Looney said. "We have an NFL club that's committed to coming to this community and wanted to explore every opportunity possible before not coming. That's a silver lining."
More than 62,000 fans turned out to the multi-week training camp last year, shattering the mark of 55,000 set back in 2010 and nearly doubling the total from 2018. The camp saw multiple single day and weekend records set, as well. With those past notches in jeopardy with the Chiefs fresh off a world title, Western will miss out on being the team's training home at the height of their popularity.
"It's obviously a big disappointment where you finally have a camp come after they win the Super Bowl," Looney said. "You're thinking, 'How do we get the trophy on display for the fans?' All of the excitement, it's a big disappointment. Fan excitement was off the charts and will be off the charts this year."
Both parties agreed to a new three-year deal in February with the option for two additional years. It's unclear how this summer will affect that contract, though. Nevertheless, work on nearly 3,000 additional grass berm seats is nearly complete at the practice fields with further upgrades ready for when the Chiefs arrive next.
"We appreciate the overwhelming support of Chiefs Kingdom and the St. Joseph community and look forward to returning to Missouri Western State University in preparation for the 2021 season," the Chiefs said.