Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria Civic Center has been closed to the public for nearly a year but the general manager is seeing demand from promoters and fans.
COVID-19 mitigations have kept the normally busy Peoria Civic Center mostly quiet since March of 2020.
“I think a lot of our events were hopeful that we would be able to do them this spring versus in the winter when they originally scheduled, but unfortunately we’re still in the same place,” said Rik Edgar, General Manager of Peoria Civic Center.
While the doors of the Civic Center remained closed for now, Edgar said he is hopeful guests could return in the later summer or fall.
“Our calendar is filling up right now but we just aren’t ready to go on sale yet. So we’re starting to breed optimism,” he said.
In the meantime organizers of large-scale events are adapting to the temporary closure of the Civic Center.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Peoria is moving its annual Spring Home Show to a virtual format that begins on February 22nd.
“It’s a huge time for the Peoria-area economy to develop that business for spring in home building and home remodeling. So we felt like we couldn’t just say the shows canceled,” said Lisa Scott, Executive Officer with Home Builders Association of Greater Peoria.
Other events like the Central Illinois Auto Show are waiting until 2022 to make a return.
“As we tried to find some dates soon, we didn’t want to just keep changing the date because we have to communicate with manufacturers and sponsors,” said Mike Bowermaster, President of Peoria Metro New Car Dealers Association
As events are already being booked, Edgar says it’s not a matter of if guests will return to the Civic Center but a matter of when.
“65% of our tickets that were bought pre-pandemic have been held onto by our fans, so there’s definitely a demand. They’re ready to come back but I think the message has been loud and clear, we want to come back when it’s safe,” Edgar said.
Edgar says a loan from the City of Peoria and CARES Act funding has helped the venue financially.