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Peoria approves Chiefs debt restructuring

Peoria ChiefsThe Peoria City Council easily approved a $1.2-million debt-reduction package for the Peoria Chiefs (Low Class A; Midwest League), clearing the way for the team to restructure some $7.35 million in debt.

The proposal, which passed 9-1, wipes out debt owed to the city on Peoria Chiefs Stadium. With city approval, private lenders will move forward on additional debt restructuring, ensuring the future of the team in Peoria. The Chiefs largely financed ballpark construction privately, and that financial drag finally caught up with team ownership in recent years. From the Peoria Journal-Star:

By a 9-1 vote Tuesday night, the City Council approved a plan that calls for forgiveness of about $1.2 million in debt the minor league baseball franchise owes the municipality. Repayment of that bond issue will take place over the next eight years.

The city’s share is part of a $7.35 million package — most of it funded privately — that secures the Chiefs’ future in Peoria, according to the team president.

“There was a lot of hard work put into this by a lot of people, and it paid off,” a pleased-looking Rocky Vonachen said following the two-hour special meeting at City Hall.

That the measure passed so easily was somewhat of a surprise: fiscal conservatives on the council had spoken out against the proposal, but in the end the danger of losing the team outweighed the financial cost. Also, the city basically had no choice: it would have been on the hook for the $1.2 million if the team left town anyway.

RELATED STORIES: Peoria set to discuss Chiefs bailout tonight; Chiefs face financial problems on ballpark debt


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