Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs are heading back to Wisconsin next year for their summer training camp, rejecting a bid by St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University.
Seeking to escape the heat and humidity of the Midwest during July, the Chiefs have trained at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls the past 16 years. Team president Carl Peterson said Tuesday he had exercised his option to train there one more year.
Kansas City also has an option for 2008, but Peterson said he would remain open to bids from other locations. He met last week with several officials from St. Joseph, including Missouri Western athletic director Mark Linder, Deputy Mayor Mike Hirter and Republican state Sen. Charlie Shields.
Kristy Hill, director of public relations for Missouri Western, said the university, city and county would continue their pursuit of the Chiefs' camp. Their presentation included plans to build an indoor practice facility.
"We've had discussions with the Chiefs for several years," she said.
"We believe we have the facilities, and we can offer the indoor practice facility. It would be wonderful for the entire Chiefs region to have them close."
Peterson said St. Joseph had made "a very impressive presentation."
"They're very sincere about trying to acquire the Kansas City Chiefs' training camp for the future," Peterson said. "I appreciated it very much. I told them I would give it serious consideration."
The Chiefs have formed a close association with officials at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
"I think it's been a very successful relationship the Chiefs have had with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. We've had 12 winning seasons out of 16 we've been there," Peterson said.
The Minnesota Vikings train nearby and are available each year for scrimmaging.
"The reason for moving up there then is the same reason today: the weather and the opportunity to compete with someone else during training camp.
"This year there were 11 days out of the 23 where there were triple-digit temperatures here in Kansas City, which would have curtained our practicing if we'd been here. That's what head coaches like. They can set practice and run practice and not have to change."
With funding from the state of Wisconsin and River Falls students, significant improvements were made on the facilities in 2005. Knowles Arena was enlarged, two new locker rooms with 100 pro-style lockers were added, and renovations were made to shower and dressing areas. A 2,500 square foot training room was also added and the entire building was air conditioned.
"And (River Falls people) have been wonderfully supportive and never complacent," Peterson said. "Every year it's, 'What more can we do?' And they've put in $2.4 million worth of new facilities in their athletic locker rooms, training rooms, all with a pro-style for us."
Wisconsin-River Falls Chancellor Don Betz said the university was happy Kansas City would be returning.
"This has been a positive relationship for the Chiefs, the University and the St. Croix Valley of Wisconsin. Having the Chiefs on our campus each year is an event that everyone looks forward to with anticipation."
Peterson said the Chiefs would still listen to other bids.
"River Falls has been our summer home for what will be the 17th year. But I'm not excluding any opportunities for other people, and that's why I listened to the St. Joe people," Peterson said.
"It was a very informative and a very constructive meeting. I'm keeping the window open, the door open as I do each year on what we'll do next year. But we had to make the decision by Oct. 1 to return to River Falls."