PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The anticipated return of one of Peoria’s biggest attractions is just days away.
“I think we’re excited and nervous,” Rik Edgar, general manager of the Civic Center, said. “When you do something you love, and it’s taken away and to know it’s coming back, that’s the excitement. We’re nervous because we haven’t done this for over 500 days.”
Edgar said the center’s staff expects to make mistakes with having to relearn “high-skilled” positions and is asking the public for patience during the process. However, he said they’re ready to pack the seats and transform the empty arena into a familiar full sight with its added safety policies.
“It’s going to be different because things have changed during COVID, so we do have a few extra safety precautions,” Edgar said. “One of the things we had beforehand was a bag policy, but we really didn’t enforce it, now we are because we want to have fewer touchpoints.”
The returning events start this Saturday, July 24, with TBT: The Basketball Tournament games and a concert from the band Chicago.
“If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it big,” Edgar said.
The general manager of the self-proclaimed economic epicenter of the downtown area also explained how a return of events could mean more business for the surrounding area.
“We saw what we could do when we were working and we also saw what happened when we went away,” Edgar said. “So many of our good friends couldn’t make it through the pandemic and their businesses closed, so this gives us an opportunity to bring some of those businesses back and to kick things off and get the economy going in Peoria again.”
He said he hopes the bars, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses in the area can see more foot traffic in the next couple of weeks.
Kristin Rantisi, manager of Jim’s Steak House across the street from the Civic Center, said she agreed.
“We’re looking forward to it, I think it’ll be great for the businesses,” Rantisi said. “People will patronize the hotels, the restaurants, and other businesses down here.”
She said customer traffic has been up and down on certain days, but she’s hoping to see this turn around soon.
“We’ve been waiting for over a year so hopefully we can get back to normal,” Rantisi said.
Edgar said although the Civic Center may look different, he said the guest experience should still be the same.
A list of the Civic Center’s safety protocol is listed below.
• Face Masks – Face coverings are recommended but are not required for guests who are fully vaccinated. All guests two years and older who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a face-covering at all times.
• Security Checkpoint – Guests will enter through metal detectors (electronic magnetometers), bags will be checked and guests will be required to remove hats and empty pockets of all items prior to scanning.
• Clear Bags – Each guest will be allowed to carry in one (1) clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” or one (1), one-gallon clear plastic bag. In addition to a clear plastic bag each guest will be allowed to carry in one (1) small clutch that does not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”. Diaper bags (with a child age 3 and under) and bags carrying medically necessary items will be allowed after a visual inspection inside the bag is completed by security.
• No Re-Entry – Re-entry is not permitted for Theater or Arena events. Patrons who exit the venue for any reason, including to smoke, will not be allowed to re-enter the facility.
• VenueShield – A comprehensive and industry-leading reopening program with protocols and procedures providing the highest levels of safety, security, and consumer confidence.
• Enhanced cleaning of surfaces, high-touch areas, and additional safety precautions such as social distancing and hand sanitizer stations.
• Some shows may restrict the use of phones or smart devices.