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Peoria area sports woes

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:17:55 CDT
By: Willis Kern

Financial woes and affiliation issues threaten two of Peoria's best-known minor league sports franchises. The Peoria Chiefs baseball team is seeking public support to refinance debt on its stadium, while the Rivermen hockey team is reportedly being shopped to another NHL team by the parent St. Louis Blues. The possible loss of either or both teams would be tough for Peoria, but an ISU sports management expert says it's too early to put a fork in either team. Assistant Professor Nels Popp says major league teams have a lot to consider when deciding whether to pull out of a minor league community.

"They have a great ballpark for the Chiefs over there. And I know Carver Arena is a good place for hockey and it's got such a history there. So it's easy to talk about and speculate, but when you try to find an ownership group that's ready to put their money where their mouth is, that can be a little more difficult."

The Blues reportedly are considering selling the Rivermen to Vancouver, which would shift the team to British Columbia. The Chiefs want the city to back a refinancing plan to help reduce stadium debt. The team paid close to $18,000 in property tax late payment fees last year. The Chiefs major league affiliation is shifting back to the Cardinals this year after a decade of featuring future Cubs players.

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