Peoria mayor says suggestions of a Rivermen agreement are 'premature'
Suggestions there is an agreement between the city, Peoria Rivermen, and Peoria Civic Center are "premature," Peoria Mayor Rita Ali said Friday.
The statement issued Friday afternoon comes after 5th District Councilman and former Rivermen player and general manager Denis Cyr vaguely announced the team had "been saved" in a post to a Rivermen Facebook group earlier this week. He said to look ahead to the city council's Feb. 28 meeting. He declined to provide additional information to a WCBU reporter.
One item at issue is the need to replace an obsolete ice plant at Carver Arena. Estimates three years ago put the cost for a new ice plant at $2.5 million, though it is likely it would be more expensive today.
Ali outlined some of the details of the talks to which Cyr alluded. She said while the Civic Center Authority was recently granted $25 million from the state for capital improvements, it's not enough to fulfill all of the Civic Center's $47 million worth of unmet capital needs.
"The city has been exploring options to assist the Peoria Civic Center with their capital needs, including the ice plant, through additional bonds paid from Hotel, Restaurant, and Amusement Taxes," Ali said. The Civic Center doesn't levy taxes, and is reliant upon program revenues and HRA taxes to sustain its operations and upkeep.
Ali said any debt financing requires the approval of both the Peoria Civic Center Authority board and the Peoria City Council. The authority board is set to meet Feb. 23, and the city council is expected to discuss it on Feb. 28.
Still, Ali said there is no final deal.
"As the Civic Center capital needs are addressed, the Civic Center Authority and the Peoria Rivermen will need to negotiate a new lease. That lease is not, and should not be, the responsibility of the City. We expect the two parties to negotiate reasonably and in good faith," she said.