Last fall, the St. Louis Cardinals committed to return its Class-A affiliation to Peoria for at least the next four years, from 2013 through 2016. The only question that has arisen since was whether the Chiefs would be able to remain in the Illinois city for the duration of the contract.
Dealing with serious financial difficulties, the money-losing club put together an assistance plan totaling $7.35 million. While most of the money is privately-sourced, the City of Peoria’s contribution was needed to close the equation.
On Tuesday night, the City Council approved a proposal to forgive about $1.2 million in debt the Chiefs owes the city. Payments of $150,000 per year over the next eight years remained on bonds issued to cover land acquisition costs and infrastructure improvements when the privately-owned stadium was constructed.
According to a report from the Peoria Journal Star, the locals determined the potential of losing the team was a worse fate than anteing up. As a result, the Council vote was a decisive 9-1 in favor.
Another $1.2 million in club debt will be forgiven by the banks that hold the stadium mortgage. $2.7 million of investment, including $300,000 in fresh money plus conversion of existing loans and interest into new equity, will be provided by the Chiefs’ ownership group of about 50 individuals.
Other components of the financial boost include a $2 million commitment from local industrial giant Caterpillar for stadium naming rights over the next decade and an increase of $250,000 from Bradley University during the same time period for use of the ballpark by the college team.
All of the elements of the proposal were contingent upon each other, with the City approval the last remaining step.