Peoria Chiefs baseball is back, nearby businesses looking forward to serving fans

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Baseball is back in Peoria this summer.

The Chiefs play their first home game at Dozer Park on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of pent up energy I think in the community and for baseball fans,” said Ben Garrod, the team’s Chief Revenue Officer.

The Minor League canceled last year’s season due to the pandemic.

“620 days is a long time without baseball,” said Garrod.

But Garrod said the season is here and fans can watch.

“For the month of May, in our first two home stands here, we are going to stay at the 25 percent capactiy,” said Garrod. He said the capacity limit still allows for around 1,000 fans in the stadium bowl.

Garrod said fans will have to wear masks at games unless they’re eating or drinking. He said some rows and seats are blocked off to help distance people. Nearby businesses still expect the games to draw a crowd.

“With the games, more people come to this area and they start visiting us again, so it’s a lot better for us,” said Carla Zamora-Vargas, owner at Casa de Arte.

As more people get vaccinated this summer, some have high hopes after a tough year for business.

“I think we’ve seen a trend of more and more people coming out and enjoying coming out,” said Elliot Lambdin, the manager at Bearded Owl Brewing.

He said the games could benefit and grow the entire area.

“The Chiefs are back in season and there’s more and more businesses kind of popping up down here,” said Lambdin.

Garrod said the Chiefs could adjust some capacity limits if COVID-19 restrictions ease. He said it could increase capacity to up to 60 percent in June, but said the capacity won’t change for any of the May games.

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