Peoria Civic Center Projects Major Deficit

Published 08/29 2014 05:49PM

Updated 08/29 2014 05:55PM

PEORIA – Major losses are projected for the Peoria Civic Center. 

The popular Peoria location originally expected a deficit of about $96,000, but now it’s looking more like $875,000.

Civic Center attendance is down, but that’s not the only Peoria business fighting a budget battle.

As WMBD reported earlier this week, the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Peoria Park District are dealing with budget shortfalls of their own.

That has some are drawing a consumer connection on why numbers are down.

“People just didn't buy tickets and didn't come to the events,” Jim Wetherington explained Friday morning.

He’s the Peoria Civic Center manager and said that a number of factors created the perfect storm for budget mayhem this year.

The number of visitors plummeted more than 140,000, and that dragged revenue down with it.

“We're projecting 875,000 [dollars] below the line this year,” said Wethrington. “We actually started the process of trying to figure out how to fix it in January because we could tell - we book so far out - we could tell that we weren't going to get there.”

However, others aren't "getting there" either.

This week Peoria's Park District announced it will have to make cuts due to a deficit larger than one million dollars. The Riverfront Museum also said there still hasn't been any spark in foot traffic.

Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce President, Jeff Griffin, pointed to a tighter consumer wallet as the cause of these disappointing numbers.

However, it's not just a problem in Central Illinois.

“Today in America the middle class… the dollars they have to spend on entertainment are more limited,” claimed Griffin.

Wethrington agreed, but says the wicked winter and destructive November tornado also took a toll on sales.

He said, “Hockey starts in November. Basketball starts in November, so that's our big tenants so it [the budget] was impacted quite a bit.”

Wetherington said the Civic Center already cut $200,000 off the operation budget. They have also reduced full-time staff by 25% since 2010.

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