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Peoria City Council OKs $20M funding plan for the Civic Center

Jeff Smudde

The City of Peoria will provide $20 million for needed capital improvements at the Peoria Civic Center, with a new ice plant at Carver Arena among the items on the project list.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the plan to take on new debt under the plan, with money to pay it back coming each year from the current Hotel, Restaurant and Amusement (HRA) tax revenue.

“In terms of timeline, we are looking at bond rating in late April with a hopeful closure at the end of May, obviously market-dependent,” said Finance Director Kyle Cratty, who noted the city will pay back only interest until 2030 when annual payments of about $6.5 million toward debt from a previous Civic Center renovation come off the books.

“The intention of this is to provide the needed capital now, while also not hindering us in the short term of meeting some of those obligations.”

The Civic Center received a $25 million grant from the state in 2019 for renovations and other improvements, but the venue’s list of needs totaled $47 million.

The move is aimed at keeping the Peoria Rivermen as one of Carver Arena’s primary tenants. The hockey team’s lease expires at the end of the current season and the ice plant has been one of the sticking points in negotiations with the Peoria Civic Center Authority.

City manager Patrick Urich noted a new lease agreement between the team and arena management is not yet in place.

“I do think that both parties are still moving down the path of operating in good faith to do that, but we don't have any update at this point in time,” said Urich.

The PCCA issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying it is “enthusiastic” about the city’s investment in the Civic Center campus.

“It improves our ability to welcome guests to experience quality arts and entertainment programming, sporting events, and conventions for generations to come,” the statement read, adding thanks to Urich, Mayor Rita Ali, and the council “for their service and commitment to improving the quality of life in our community.”

PCCA board chair Yvonne Greer-Batton said last month it wouldn’t be possible to have a new ice plant in place before the start of next season. Original estimates placed the cost of a new ice plant at $2.5 million, but the new plan includes a set-aside of approximately $4 million.

The Rivermen are the reigning Southern Professional Hockey League champions, and currently hold the best record in the league (33-12-4, 70 standings points).

Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.