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Coronavirus Exacts An Unprecedented Toll on Peoria's Hotels

Tim Shelley / WCBU
The Courtyard by Marriott and Hotel Pere Marquette in Downtown Peoria on March 12, 2020.

The cancellation of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament in downtown Peoria took a toll on the city's hotels.
On WTVP's At Issue, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said employees at the Courtyard by Marriott are now all working out of the conjoined Hotel Pere Marquette. That vacated space presents a unique opportunity if the need arises.

"They've also made very generous offers, if we were to get to a point where we would need large numbers of rooms for sick people, that they could totally take over the Courtyard, which would potentially be very helpful to us," he said.

The mayor also said the Four Points by Sheraton, the city's largest hotel, ran into bad luck. It reopened after seven years of ownership changes and renovation delays only to see one of the year's biggest local draws canceled.
"Four Points, just really bad timing," Ardis said. "You know, if this wouldn't have came up, they would have had, you know, one of the biggest weekends in Central Illinois with March Madness."
The IHSA tournament was expected to bring more than $4.4 million into the area economy. But the annual statewide high school basketball tournament, all ticketed events at the Peoria Civic Center through May 1, and other big-name events across Central Illinois have cancelled or postponed over novel coronavirus concerns.
Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO J.D. Dalfonso told At Issue's H Wayne Wilson that occupancy is down to unprecedented single digits. He said a 45 percent hotel layoff rate is anticipated.
Ardis said COVID-19 is having a dramatic and painful impact on these businesses, but he's glad the state and federal government are working to address small business needs. The Small Business Administration is now offering loans to many smaller employers. About 50 percent of Americans own or work at a business with less than 500 employees.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.