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River Falls Will Be Hurting With Chiefs Moving Training Camp

For the last 20 years, River Falls, WI has been known the most for one thing: Kansas City Chiefs training camp.

When Carl Peterson took over in the last 80s, he took the Chiefs to River Falls for camp. The idea was that the team would bond more staying in the dorm rooms, a day's drive away from home and away from the distractions of living in the city. The team was expected to forge a bond that would help them during the long and grueling season.

River Falls of course benefited from the process. The Chiefs brought along with them their fans who would shop at the stores, eat in the restaurants and stay in the hotels.

The economic boost, according to recent reports, is in the neighborhood of $2 million. River Falls isn't a big town so you know how much they needed that.

Now, in 2010, the Chiefs won't be in River Falls for the first time in 19 years. They're moving to St. Joe and have committed to what will likely be at least 10 years. They've given money to build new facilities and create a 'new' River Falls up the road.

The benefits are obvious: Fans are closer so they can come. Financially, it's easier on just about everyone. It's not cheap to pack up an entire weight room and drive it seven hours away. Now the Chiefs are closer to home the players families can come out more often. For most everyone involved, it's a good thing that camp moved to St. Joe.

Except for River Falls.

"I'm gonna miss 'em," said Craig Foster, owner of the Foster Sports shop, which used to fill its windows with Chiefs gear each summer. "It always brought some excitement into the area, and it was good to have."

This summer, River Falls' leaders are waiting to gauge the impact on businesses and the students who lost a chance at coveted summer jobs.

Foster has "40 or 50 boxes" of Chiefs memorabilia that he would normally be putting out on the shelf in a few weeks. Not anymore, he says, they're sitting in the back.

Remember those incredibly detailed daily camp reports we would get from the UW-RF staff? Those were journalism students. They were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Cover a pro team and interact daily with players and, just as important, other media members who have been in the business.

Tourism is expected to take a major hit without the Chiefs. Officials don't quite know what the difference will be from this year to last but it's expected to be significant.

"We always enjoyed having the Kansas City Chiefs fans visit River Falls," Bump said. "We would love to have kept them here for longer, but that's not always how it goes."

It's amazing how many people this will affect. Something as little as training camp nearly made a town. Now, River Falls will become known for something else. They'll move on but, unfortunately for some, it will be without the Chiefs.