Peoria Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen has announced a new naming rights agreement for Peoria Chiefs Stadium with Caterpillar. (WJBC file photo)
By WJBC Staff
PEORIA - The Peoria Chiefs and Caterpillar Inc. have announced the renaming of Peoria Chiefs Stadium to Dozer Park effective immediately.
The agreement is part of a 10-year $2 million investment by Caterpillar in the naming rights for the ballpark in partnership with the Chiefs.
"With the economy the way it was the last few years and unable to get naming rights because of the economy, there were some financial constraints," Vonachen said.
"We were looking to do some refinancing of our debt and a lot of people stepped up. Local bands stepped up, Caterpillar stepped up, the City of Peoria stepped up. So, now we are positioned to where we are going to be around here for a long, long time."
The ballpark, which opened May 24, 2002 as O’Brien Field, hosts the St. Louis Cardinals Class-A Midwest League affiliate. The stadium was renamed Peoria Chiefs Stadium prior to the 2009 season after the deal with O’Brien Automotive expired.
“The company was founded on the bulldozer,” said Jim Baumgartner, Caterpillar's Director of Corporate Affairs. “We wanted to choose something that represents Caterpillar’s heritage but also represents Peoria. This is our hometown, and it’s the region where we’ve made tractors since the company’s inception.”
Caterpillar officials said the company purchased the naming rights as part of a recently-approved refinancing agreement between the Peoria Chiefs and other parties to keep the downtown stadium a viable community asset and retain professional minor league baseball in Peoria for many years to come.
“We have more than 16,000 employees and their families in the area, and this is an important tool to attract talented people to work at our company,” said Baumgartner. “The ballpark is an asset for our community and an integral part of the Warehouse District Revitalization efforts. We are committed to central Illinois.”
“We are thankful for Caterpillar’s involvement with the ballpark, and we’re thrilled to have ‘Dozer Park’ as the name,” said Peoria Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen. “Caterpillar is such a driving force in our community. The company is helping make progress possible in Peoria.”
Dozer Park will be the stadium’s third name as the ballpark closes in on its 11th anniversary later this month.
A grand re-opening celebration will be held sometime later this summer.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.