St. Joseph businesses embrace fans headed to training camp - KCTV5

University campus, area businesses embrace fans headed to training camp

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It's been a long time coming for fans and players. Friday was the official opening of the Kansas City Chiefs' training camp.

Fans are certainly happy about that, and businesses in St. Joseph, where the camp is being held, are ecstatic.

Sales jump 40 percent at Uncle D's Sports Bar and Grill, located near 36th and Messanie Streets. That translates into a lot of beer.

"We're tracking it," said Dwayne Leer from Uncle D's. "In three weeks last year, we sold 1,262 towers, 100 ounce towers of beer."

Leer said it's their best three weeks of the year.

"I don't want them to go anywhere. I want them to stay. It's good for the economy. It's good for jobs. It's good for a lot of things," he said.

The one change this year businesses are hoping won't hurt them too much is a change in the Chiefs' practice schedule. Many are wondering what effect the morning practices will have on their bottom line.

"We are embracing the Chiefs family, the Kansas City crowds, hoping to see more people come through the door," said Kerra Flatt, the general manager of Stoney Creek Inn, located north of Missouri Route 6, and just off of Interstate 29. "We are hoping people will come down the night before, stay the night, then go to the early morning practices. That gives them a chance to eat in our restraints, see St. Joe, stay in the hotel and go to practice in the morning."

Last year most public practices took place in the afternoon, a time Tim Tucker said meant more business for Legends Sports Café, located on North Belt Highway.

"A lot of people will just come up for the morning and head home. They're not going to stay and eat. No afternoon practices, so nobody to come up and eat before practice. It's definitely going to impact us," he said.

Business was slow Friday afternoon, but Tucker said a good crowd for camp won't make or break him, although it would help.

The Chiefs' crowds have given a boost to the local economy, but the camp also brings priceless exposure to Missouri Western University. Missouri Western's campus hosts the Chiefs, which has resulted in a tremendous update to its facilities.

"It's just been a blessing for us at Missouri Western," said Kurt McGuffin, the university's Director of Athletics.

The Chiefs practice in a state-of-the-art, $13 million facility during the three-week camp. The rest of the time, it's the domain of the university.

McGuffin said it makes Missouri Western's football team better on a day-to-day basis.

"With the winter we had, we had kids there practicing anytime, when we couldn't be outside, and that's enhanced our programs," he said.

And, it's not just about football. The university's training room, weight room and practice field can be adapted to accommodate most sports. But the school's football program has reaped the biggest benefits. They're now winning championships, and three players have gone from Missouri Western to the National Football League. That helps bring in new and better players.

"We think the exposure from the Chiefs, and the added facilities have made us a football team for people to look at," McGuffin said.

The Chiefs have a 5-year contract to train in St. Joseph. This is year four. McGuffin said negotiations will begin on a new contract after the season. He, and others in St. Joseph, are hoping for a long and financially healthy relationship.

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