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City, Caterpillar, Banks Help Bail Out Peoria Chiefs

PEORIA - More than $7-million in help from the city of Peoria, Caterpillar and banks could help keep the Peoria Chiefs afloat.
PEORIA - More than $7-million in help from the city of Peoria, Caterpillar and banks could help keep the Peoria Chiefs afloat.

The team is struggling financially and owes money to its creditors. Caterpillar has agreed to pay $2-million for the naming rights to Chiefs Stadium and Bradley University will start paying a higher fee to play there. That will amount to $2.25-million in revenue.

The Chiefs' bank group will reduce the amount owed on current loans, and Peoria City council will vote on forgiving bond payments. Those two will relieve the club of $2.4-million in debt. Owner contributions will further add $2.7-million. Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen says fans would be able to notice the difference.

"Allow us to make some improvements to the ball park. One of them is a possible new video board that we desperately need," Vonachen said.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis explained why the city might be willing to forgive payments of $150,000 per year for the next eight years.

"I have mayors from around the state that are in here for different things and they see a stadium like this in a city our size and they would, they'd give their left foot to have it," Ardis said.

Ardis and Vonachen both said they want the stadium to continue to be privately owned. 

"This whole deal is subject to everything coming together, if one  thing doesn't come through the whole thing doesn't come through," Vonachen said.

The whole plan hinges on a city council vote. The Peoria city council will have a special meeting Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. to vote on whether to forgive more than a million dollars in bond payments. It's the only party left to come on board.
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