Missouri officials OK aid for Chiefs training camp move

ST. JOSEPH | As one their final acts, members of former Gov. Matt Blunt's administration signed off on $25 million in state tax credits for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The tax credits are to finance additional renovations at Arrowhead Stadium and subsidize a training camp move from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

The Missouri Development Finance Board approved the tax credits Dec. 16. Because their value exceeded the state's cap for such tax credits, the directors of the Office of Administration, Department of Revenue and Department of Economic Development also had to sign off on the deal.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who is chairman of the finance board, told the St. Joseph News-Press for an article published Tuesday that Blunt's outgoing Cabinet directors approved the tax credits late Friday.

Blunt's term as governor ended at noon Monday, and he was replaced by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon, who has called for a review of all state tax credits, had not said publicly whether his new administration officials would have approved the Chiefs' aid.

"(Nixon) remained silent, so of course we wanted to move ahead," said Kinder spokesman Gary McElyea.

Nixon doesn't seem inclined to try to reverse the decision.

"He's not going to second-guess the (previous) administration," said Nixon spokesman Jack Cardetti. "Our job now is making sure we maximize the amount of jobs created and make sure Missourians get the best bang for their buck."

The new tax breaks come on top of $50 million awarded in June 2006 for the renovation of the adjacent Chiefs and Kansas City Royals stadiums. Since then, the Chiefs have added to their improvement list while also exploring a summer training camp site closer to home.

The Chiefs plan to use $10 million generated from the sale of the new tax credits to help build a $13.5 million indoor training facility in St. Joseph, which is about 40 miles north of Kansas City. Local officials must raise the rest. A university student fee will offset some of the cost, but the city of St. Joseph and Buchanan County are considering how much of the remainder they will provide.

The facility is expected to open in 2010, ending the Chiefs' 19-year tradition of training in Wisconsin.

Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields, R-St. Joseph, was among the leading advocates for the new Chiefs training camp in his hometown. He said January construction deadlines made it important to approve the deal before Blunt's officials left.

"The issue was, if you get it signed, we didn't have to wait for the appointments of new department heads," Mr. Shields said. "Now we can begin the process."