By DAVE SKRETTA
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo., AP) — The Chiefs broke camp on the campus of Missouri Western on Thursday as they prepared for their second preseason game, and will resume practice at their own facility in Kansas City next week.
Now, the question become whether the Chiefs will ever return to St. Joseph.
This was the final year of a five-year contract to take training camp roughly an hour’s drive north of Arrowhead Stadium. Previously, the Chiefs held training camp in Wisconsin, and the trend in the NFL has been to move camp to the team facility on a permanent basis.
“The university here has been phenomenal. They take care of us like no other, and the fans have been awesome,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Every day we come out, they load it up here and that gives you a little energy, especially going through the dog days of training camp.”
But asked whether Reid would push for a return next season, the old coach punted.
“Listen, I don’t do the business part of it,” Reid said. “And I understand how that works. But we enjoy it here, we do, and from a player-coach standpoint, we enjoy it.”
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said he anticipates making a decision on training camp by the end of the year, and that he will consider input from Reid and general manager John Dorsey.
“I wouldn’t say at this point that we are leaning any way,” Hunt said. “Coach Reid really likes the setup we have here. Our deal with the university can potentially extend another five years on a year-to-year basis. It’s a decision that we will have to make after training camp.”
One of the biggest considerations is the Chiefs’ fan base.
Sure, thousands made the long trek to Wisconsin when camp was held in River Falls, but the close proximity of St. Joseph to Kansas City makes things more accessible. And if it were to be moved to the team’s training facility, there would not be nearly enough space to invite the public to regular practices — the team would need to have special workouts in Arrowhead Stadium.
“When we were in River Falls, we had a lot of fans make the trip, but I don’t think we ever had 6,200 fans out on a given day, 100 percent of who were Chiefs fans there cheering the guys on,” Hunt said. “That’s all a very big positive.”
In terms of setup, Missouri Western offers the advantages of dorm space for the 90-man roster the Chiefs take to training camp. If it were moved permanently to Kansas City, the team would need to rent out apartments or hotel rooms for the extra players.
The team would also need to consider its practice fields, which already get torn up by the midway point of the season. Three additional weeks of practice would only make matters worse.
“I know a lot of teams have made that decision to take training camp back to their permanent facilities. It’s not something that we’ve discussed at this point,” Hunt said. “I imagine that if we did make the decision to move, we’d look at all of our options.”
More than anything else, though, Reid believes that going away helps to forge a team. Players spend more time together. They bond. They are able to share moments and experiences that might not happen if they scattered to their own homes after practices.
That’s why Reid also favored going away when he was the coach in Philadelphia.
“The football side is the most important,” Hunt said. “Does the football staff, the coaching staff, feel like they are able to have an effective camp? Be able to get done what they want to get done here? There are a lot of things that go into that, a lot of small details. Andy is, I think, well known for his attention to small detail and the university does a nice job with those small details. So I think there are a lot of positives in terms of staying here.”
Notes: Chiefs S Eric Berry (heel tendinitis), DT Mike DeVito (broken hand), DE Mike Catapano (illness) and LB Josh Mauga (groin strain) missed practice Thursday. … Reid expects his starters to play the first half Sunday in Carolina. He has not decided on the second-half rotation.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL