ST. JOSEPH Mo. – Leading up to what might be the most anticipated season of Kansas City Chiefs football, the team opened its training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph this weekend to a record-setting crowd of fans.
The hype of the Chiefs Kingdom could be felt before even entering the campus of Missouri Western as cars piled up on Mitchell Avenue to see the team in person. According to the Chiefs, an estimated 15,000 fans attended the two open practices.
“It’s probably got to be one of the biggest opening practice crowds that I’ve seen since we’ve been up here at Missouri Western,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said at his Saturday media availability. “And obviously, they’re very excited about the season and it was great to get the first practice under our belt.”
As practice began Saturday, nearly every set of bleachers was full, the hill near where the players entered the fields was packed and each fence was lined with fans attempting to snap pictures and get the best view possible.
Travis Kelce, Chris Jones and Tyreek Hill all received booming ovations as they walked on the field. To no surprise, Patrick Mahomes was heavily cheered from the moment he walked on the field. Every step, throw and look he made had the attention of anyone who could see it.
Mahomes’ performance last season and the steps he has taken to embrace the fanbase is what led many fans to attend camp for the first time.
David True stood among a group of fans stationed near a fence where they hoped Mahomes would be signing autographs. The Warrensburg, Missouri, native was at his first training camp and made it clear who he was there to support as he dressed as Mahomes – hair, headband and all.
“Mahomes was the reason I wanted to come out here, but I’ve been a fan all of my life,” True said.
True was later seen in a video posted by the Chiefs having his ball autographed by Mahomes.
On the other end of the field, Allan Large and Jeremiah Large, brothers from Topeka, watched the special teams units catch punts and practice kicks. Allan wore a Derrick Johnson jersey with a black, yellow and red headdress while Jeremiah was wearing a Kelce jersey.
Allan had never made it out for training camp due to work, but a timely day off and pressure from Jeremiah – a regular attendee – made the decision easy.
“We love Mahomes,” Jeremiah said, “Ever since we saw him perform at the combine. One word, amazing.”
That is the affect Mahomes has had since he stepped on the field as the starter nearly a year ago. Fans piled in early to watch him warm up and he delivered, showing the progress he made throwing with his left hand and behind his back. He stomped any thoughts of his connection with Hill weakening as the pair connected on various downfield passes. During his media availability Saturday, Mahomes expressed what the large crowd meant to him.
“It was awesome. The amount of people we have here and the spirit of the Chiefs Kingdom here is strong,” he said. “I’m excited to play in front of them in any of these moments and opportunities that I get.”
Training camp is scheduled to run through Aug. 16 with practice times varying each day. For a full schedule of practice start times, autograph sessions and sales in the team store, visit www.chiefs.com/trainingcamp