PEORIA, Ill.(WMBD) – Sports fans could soon have the opportunity to fill the seats at the Peoria Civic Center as a national basketball tournament returns to the city for the first time in years.
This summer, 64 teams will compete for the chance to win $1 million dollars as a part of nationally-televised The Basketball Tournament or TBT. 16 team of those teams will begin their journey at the Peoria Civic Center during the Illinois Regional.
“For example, Bradley’s going to have a team, Always A Brave, and it’s going to bring back some of the past greats of Bradley because they have a million dollars staring them in the eyes to go for it,” said Rik Edgar, General Manager of Peoria Civic Center.
Not only will basketball make its return to the venue, but potentially the most fans the Civic Center has seen in over a year.
“To have 25 percent capacity and 2,500 folks in our house by the end of July, we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Edgar said.
Staff at Discover Peoria says the last time the event stopped in the River City it provided an economic boost.
“Back when The Basketball Tournament was here in 2017 and they played at the Renaissance Coliseum, that generated $292,000 in direct economic impact for our region,” said MacKenzie Taylor, Marketing Coordinator for Discover Peoria.
Taylor said that even with COVID restrictions remaining in place, the Peoria region still stands to benefit from an event like TBT.
“Those families are going to be staying at our hotels in Peoria, East Peoria, and the surrounding communities. It’s going to be felt, they’re going to be walking around, popping in and out of local stores,” she said.
Tickets for The Basketball Tournament will go on sale Wednesday, April 21st.
Recently, Reba McEntire also postponed her tour until 2022, one of her stops was in Peoria. Edgar says it’s a move that he supports and he believes a show of that stature cannot go on without full capacity.