PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Professional soccer made its way to Peoria with the new team, the Peoria City. Soon, players will be on the field and ready to welcome fans.
The United Soccer League welcomed the team as they have been waiting for two years to start their journey because of COVID-19.
“On behalf of our ownership group, we cannot thank the Peoria community enough for the patience and support in our launch of Peoria City,” said John Dorn, Peoria City managing partner. “The work of Jim DeRose and Tim Regan and the incredible vision for the Peoria community of Kim Blickenstaff is a testament to the commitment, values, and culture of the Peoria community. We are humbled and excited to be part of that.“
The Peoria City will be in the League Two Central Conference Deep North Division as announced in 2020. It will face opponents like the Des Moines Menace, FC Manitoba, Minneapolis City SC, St. Croix SC, and Thunder Bay Chill.
Jim DeRose, the acting administrator for the team, said he is ready for something new to come to the area.
“This is an exciting time to bring something to the Peoria summer schedule that we think is going to be very well-received as people get out now hopefully this summer and get back to some level of normalcy and enjoy themselves,” said DeRose.
CEO of Discover Peoria JD Dalfonso said he thinks this team will bring the city together.
“With this professional team, I think it brings a bigger identity to what we have here. And whether that’s the Chiefs, the Rivermen, even Bradley basketball in a sense, Bradley athletics, now you have this professional soccer team,” said Dalfonso. “I think it’s a growing anticipation and a long-awaited appearance for the soccer team to land here in Peoria.”
The goal for this team in the first year, however, is not focused on winning.
DeRose said, “Defining success for us in our first year is just exposing this to the community and having a space on the calendar where we can bring families out.”
Community members need to keep their eyes on the lookout, as the team will be here before people realize.
“First week in May is when we really get practices started and jump right into it and a couple of games a week for eight weeks,” said DeRose.
The official schedule will be announced Jan. 27. For more information, check out the team’s website.