Making the most of a trip to Chiefs training camp

KANSAS CITY, Mo., — The Chiefs open training camp July 26 for the first of 15 practices open to the public, providing fans their first opportunity to see the 2018 edition of football in Kansas City.

There’s much to do and see in St. Joseph, Mo., and around the Missouri Western State University campus. There are also plenty of things to know in order to make sure a trip to training camp is an enjoyable one.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about this year’s camp and maximizing your trip to see the Chiefs.

Schedule

Thursday, July 26 Practice – 3:30 p.m.
$5 Admission Fee, Team Autograph Session, Back to Football Celebration at Bill Snyder Pavilion

Friday, July 27 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Saturday, July 28 Practice – 8:15 a.m.
$5 Admission Fee, Team Autograph Session, Gatorade Jr. Training Camp

Sunday, July 29 Practice – 8:15 a.m.
Season Ticket Member Day, Team Autograph Session

Monday, July 30 Practice – 9:15 a.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 1 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 2 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 4 Practice – 8:15 a.m.
$5 Admission Fee, Family Fun Day Presented by Family Center Farm & Home, Team Autograph Session

Sunday, Aug. 5 Practice – 8:15 a.m. (Coach Reid Available)
Season Ticket Member Day, Team Autograph Session

Monday, Aug. 6 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 7 Practice – 9:15 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 11 Practice – 8:15 a.m.
Chiefs Alumni Day

Sunday, Aug. 12 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Monday, Aug. 13 Practice – 8:15 a.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 14 Practice – 9:15 a.m.
Military Appreciation Day – Final Camp Practice

Cost

Most practices are free but Missouri Western does charge admission of $5 per person on July 26 and 28 as well as Aug. 4. Children three and under are free on those days. Advanced tickets for these days can be purchased online.

The university also charges a daily parking fee of $5 per car or $15 for buses and RVs. Advanced parking tickets are available online.

Check the weather and traffic

A big factor to consider heading to training camp is the weather. Obviously you want to be prepared for sunshine – there’s virtually zero shade at the practice fields, unless you land an invite to one of the VIP tents on the hills overlooking the end zone. Bring sunscreen and plenty of it.

But check for rain before heading out the door. The team will practice in a light rain. They will even brave it out through a heavy downpour if there is no lightning in the area. Be prepared with an umbrella, poncho or a rain jacket, and especially protection for your phone, wallet, purse or another valuables you’re bringing to camp. I always have a trash bag and some Ziploc bags on hand just in case.

But if lighting is in the area practice moves indoors. Indoor practices are not open to the public. The Chiefs make every effort to keep the team on the field for public practices. But if severe weather is expected, they may cancel practice. Our Twitter account @mattderrick will also alert you to any weather issues before and during practice.

The good news is that there are very few if any construction projects ongoing that might impact your drive to St. Joseph. If you have any concerns, however, check the Missouri Department of Transportation travel map for info on your route to camp.

Packing

The bleachers accommodate about 1,800 fans. Opening day and weekend crows can approach up to 5,000, so that means standing or sitting might be your best bet. Some of the best views can also be found on the grass hill behind the end zones. Blankets and lawn chairs are ideal for those situations.

As mentioned before, unless you have an invitation to one of the VIP tents, there is little protection from the sun, so be sure to bring sunscreen. Sunglasses help too, especially if you plan to sit on the hill behind the south end zones.

Fans can also bring a sealed bottle of water with them. A free water station is also located inside the main entrance. There is also a misting tent for fans to cool down.

Other than that, standard rules apply for what you can bring to camp. No outside food or drinks other than a sealed bottle of water. No coolers, noisemakers, boom boxes or laser pointers. If you have any doubts, check out the list on the university’s website.

Even though you’re usually close to the action, bring a pair of binoculars if you have them. It’s a great way to keep tabs on the other field, especially if you’re sitting in the bleachers.

Lots open one hour and 45 minutes before practice, and tailgating is permitted. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all university lots.

Even though you can see practice for free, be prepared to bring a little spending money. The Chiefs offer a full gift shop at the entrance to camp to pick up jerseys, hats or any other gear you might need. Food and drinks are also available.

Getting in and around St. Joseph

Missouri Western State University and the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau offer great resources for navigating your way to training camp and finding things to do and see in addition to your visit to camp. Here’s a couple of links to check out:

Directions to training camp

Training camp map

Parking information

Frequently asked questions

Area restaurants

What day to go

Choosing the right day to attend training camp depends on many factors, and no one day of training camp is quite the same.

The opening practice on July 26 and weekend practices all get standing-room-only crowds. Late arrivals may find themselves standing along the fence in the end zone.

All practices run until about 11 a.m. That means that practices starting at 9:15 run an hour shorter than sessions starting at 8:15. But the shorter practices are often faster paced and feature more team periods. If you want to see more scrimmages between the offense and defense and fewer drills, installations and individual work, these are great practices to attend.

Attendance also seems to decrease as camp continues. If you want to avoid crowds, get weekday practices toward the end of camp are generally the best days to attend. The final day of camp – Military Appreciation Day – is also a fun day to attend.

How to watch a training camp practice

One of the great things about training camp is the chance to see professional football up close, an opportunity that you may not get even at Arrowhead Stadium. There are places to watch camp that truly give a sense of the speed and power of these athletes.

If you want to claim a spot and stay for the entire practice, you can do that. But if you’re only going to camp for one or two practices, moving around to different locations can offer a lot of fun.

If you’re sitting in the bleachers, go for a row further up and not the first row. A lot of people will walk by and sometimes players, coaches and support staff may block your view. Being elevated won’t take you very far way but will deliver a better perspective.

When you arrive at the fields look for the video camera trucks behind the goalposts. These are small little huts with a long silver pole stretching between the uprights. The position of the cameras tell you where most of the action will be that day. If the cameras are on the far side of the field from the bleachers, claiming a seat on the hill behind the southern end zones offers the best vantage point.

One of the best areas to watch practice is actually from behind the fence line along the north end zones. When the team runs drills or scrimmages toward that end zone, you get very close to the players. Players have even been known to talk with fans and pose for pictures there. Even if you don’t want to stand for an entire practice, checking out the vantage point from there for even 15 minutes can be a lot of fun.

Don’t be afraid the move around and take in practice from different locations.

Autographs

The Chiefs designate five days as team autograph days: July 26, 28 and 29 and Aug. 4-5. That means a group of players are guaranteed to sign autographs each day. Here’s a breakdown of what position groups will sign each day:

  • Running backs/quarterbacks/specialists: July 27 and Aug. 11
  • Linebackers: July 30 and Aug. 12
  • Wide receivers and tight ends: Aug. 2 and 14
  • Offensive line/defensive line: Aug. 1 and 7
  • Defensive backs: Aug. 6 and 13

Players typically work the rope line along the far end zone opposite from the stands and up the hill toward the locker rooms. Crowds form quickly, so if getting an autograph is high on your list head toward those areas well before the close of practice.

Some players will also sign autographs on other days on their own accord but there’s not guarantee. Occasional players who have finished their work day may head to the locker room early and sign autographs on their way up the hill.

Other news to note

The 75-player cut date no longer exists, so all 90 players will make it through training camp and the four preseason games. You will see the full 90-player roster when you come to camp.

The Gatorade Junior Training Camp for athletes age 12 to 14 on July 28 provides young players an opportunity to work with players and coaches from the Missouri Western Griffons football team in on-field drills and skill challenges. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the event runs from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Admission to camp that day is $5.

New this year is the Bill Snyder Pavilion overlooking the north end zone of Spratt Memorial Stadium. The plaza will host several events during training camp, including the opening day Back to Football Celebration including a free concert by local rock band Minor Rewind, extended kids’ zone hours and free popsicles for kids.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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