It may seem like training camp is still off in the horizon, but a quick glance at the calender will tell a very different story. This season is the first one taking place at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph and as Kent Babb reports, the locals are unsure of how the town will adjust to the increased attention.
“There will definitely be a learning curve this year,” said Kristi Rasmussen, the communications director for the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce. “Whatever happens this year, we’ll definitely learn a lot from it. Hopefully everything runs smoothly.”
With all the good that locals say they’re expecting — increased tourism, fresh dollars flowing into a struggling town, and regional and perhaps national attention — there comes with it accompanying stress and plenty of unknowns. Upward of 10,000 visitors are expected on some days of camp, and that leads to questions about parking, space and readiness as the project’s completion date approaches. About 3,500 parking spots will be available during Chiefs camp. About half of those will be in pay lots, $10 per car.
Across town, restaurants and hotels are preparing for all those people. One restaurant, the Tap Room Bar and Grill, added seating to its patio and relined the spots in its parking lot to maximize capacity, co-owner Bob Bledsoe said. It also added televisions to its dining room and has Chiefs’ banners and players’ jerseys on display.
But despite the preparations, Bledsoe said he’s still uncertain how reality will match expectations. Has the restaurant done enough? Too much? Bledsoe said it’s an exciting time, but it’s also nerve-racking.
“We don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I just tell our employees that we need to be ready. We assume that we’re going to be busy from 10 o’clock in the morning to 1:30 at night. But no one knows for sure.”
I can understand the locals being a little worried about the unknown, but there is one thing that is known: a whole lot of money is coming St. Joe’s way. So while there will be trepidation, all of that will be washed away when the economy gets a much needed shot in the arm.
When I was in college, a large amount of people in the town were quick to complain when the enrollment shot up quickly over a few years. More traffic, loud noises, more trash… we heard everything in the book. Yet I never once heard someone willing to give back the hundreds of thousands of dollars that were injected into local businesses or quit the jobs created when the downtown area exploded with new shops and restaurants.
Simply put, if things go according to plan the positives will easily outweigh any negatives.