Peoria Rivermen announce they are extending lease with Peoria Civic Center

The announcement comes on the heels of a a new hockey team in Bloomington. (Photo courtesy: Peoria Riverman/Facebook)


PEORIA – Months of speculation ended, sort of, Wednesday when the Peoria Civic Center and the Peoria Rivermen hockey announced they extended the minor league’s team for another year.

The Rivermen hockey team, which have been anchor tenants at the Downtown facility for more than 40 years, had the option to extend the lease by one year under an agreement reached last year between the two.

The team did just that and the civic center authority, the quasi-governmental body that runs the building, agreed. The team now will have the ability to play at Carver Arena through the end of the 2024-2025 season.

According to ASM Global, the company that operates the building for the civic center authority, both the Civic Center and the Rivermen are pleased with the extension as it allows for more time to discuss a long-term agreement.

Zachary Oyler, who is an at-large councilman, said he “fully supports the team and wants to make sure that a solution is found to keep the team here for the long haul.”

He’s been a vocal advocate for the hockey team, and said he’s heard the Civic Center Authority had sent a proposal for a long-term lease to the team but hadn’t heard back.

An attempt to reach Rivermen owner Bart Rogers wasn’t immediately successful. In the past, both sides have said they wouldn’t discuss lease negotiations in public.

“The civic center wants to ensure the Rivermen are staying but we (the civic center authority) are prepared to make the investment. They have want a long-term commitment from the team,” he said.

The lease has been an issue for the team and fans which attended several meetings of both the authority and the city council to pressure those bodies to work with the team as well as to work on a longer-term lease.

Just shy of a year ago, the city council voted to levy $20 million in bonds to help the civic center fix a slew of items including the machine that makes the ice surface so the Rivermen can play hockey.

The money comes from the city’s hotel, restaurant and amusement taxes, which would cover nearly all the items not funded by a $25 million state grant already awarded. Former Rivermen and current City Councilman Denis Cyr proposed the deal which was seen by many in the community as a way to save the team.

Fans last year were afraid the civic center didn’t want to keep the team. The Authority countered they were looking out for taxpayers and that repairing an ice plant without a good deal with the team wasn’t a good use of taxpayer money.

Oyler said he had heard the civic center wanted to replace the ice plant next summer, in 2025, but wanted to get a long-term lease done first.

“They want that done before as we don’t need an ice plan if there is no team,” he said.

WMBD can be reached at [email protected].


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