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Chiefs face financial problems on ballpark debt

Peoria ChiefsThe Peoria Chiefs (Low Class A; Midwest League) are reportedly seeking public assistance on debt remaining on Peoria Chiefs Stadium, as the team faces financial issues on the outstanding bank loan and property-tax fronts.

There is $4.2 million of debt remaining on the ballpark, and the team has faced some financial issues in the last year, paying almost $18,000 in penalties on late property-tax payments. From the Peoria Journal-Star:

Sources said the club was looking for help with the $4.2 million remaining on its ballpark mortgage.

In a statement, Chiefs President Rocky Vonachen said the team was “looking to refinance the stadium to take advantage of historic low rates. Helping to lower our stadium costs keep the Chiefs a strong community asset.”

Sources told the Journal Star a bank — it was unclear which one — had tried last summer to demand the team pay off its mortgage.

Now, Vonachen is 100 percent accurate when he says a refinancing of the mortgage would make financial sense: there’s no doubts rates on the open market today are lower than when the $16-million ballpark was initially financed in 2002. The team financed the majority of the construction costs; the city kicked in $3.5 million and created a TIF district as well. Whether a city pledge to back new financing is necessary remains the wild card.

But it’s also well-known that the team is facing financial issues; other owners have been approached to advise city business leaders on a course of action. The easiest one may be refinancing the debt to a sustainable level while lowering the ballpark’s valuation, which would in turn put more cash in the team coffers in the form of lower property taxes. There’s no danger the team would move: Peoria is a good market and the ballpark is serviceable.


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