PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – As COVID-19 relief packages were passed over the last two years, some industries such as minor league sports said they were mostly left out of targeted efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut the Peoria Rivermen’s 2019-2020 season short and canceled the Peoria Chiefs’ 2020 season in its entirety. Leadership from both teams said this created big financial losses.

This occurred while the owner of the Rivermen, Bart Rogers, said staff continued to be paid in full.

“All expenses continued to go but there was no revenue coming in,” Rogers said.

The lost season caused the Chiefs to significantly cut down staff and find other revenue streams.

“That was survival mode. We cut expenses, we sold bobbleheads and did what we had to get by just to kind of get through,” said Jason Mott, Peoria Chiefs general manager.

In 2022, minor league sports are still recovering.

“The expenses are probably 15 to 20 percent higher across the board, people are still somewhat concerned about coming out,” Rogers said.

Mott said funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program were helpful but only went so far, and funding such as the Shuttered Venues Grant didn’t apply for organizations like the Chiefs and Rivermen.

“Almost every industry got something except for ours and they didn’t have to shut down completely,” Mott said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Maryland Senator and chairman of the Small Business Committee Ben Cardin is crafting legislation that would send targeted relief to industries like minor league sports, hotels, and gyms.

Mott said the assistance would be a game-changer.

“Our pitch is there’s money that hasn’t been claimed from other bills out there that would cover what we’re asking for. So it’s not asking the government to go back and put a bill with more money, it’s basically taking money and reallocating it,” Mott said.

Both the Chiefs and Rivermen have been around for decades and Rogers said the legislation would help continue that tradition.

“It helps offset what we’ve lost but it also helps us get better for the future and make sure these community assets are here,” Rogers said.

In a statement to WMBD-TV the president of operations for the Normal CornBelters weighed-in on relief efforts:

“There is a tremendous effort ongoing as it relates to relief opportunities in minor league/collegiate league space. The Prospect League has been engaged with a number of lobbying groups in an effort to secure funding for the teams throughout our footprint”

Matt Stembridge, president of operations for Normal CornBelters

Both the Chiefs and Rivermen are asking the community to contact their members of Congress to consider supporting the legislation.