Saturday, September 24, 2011

On the Civic Center

Yes, I know, I've been off the radar for a while. Been busy trying to make the car thing work, but that is a topic for another blog. Lately there has a been a bit of a ruckus about the Civic Center and its propensity to lose money. As if this were something new. Hardly. CJ Summers did a rather extensive article last May in the Peoria Chronicle detailing the losses of the Civic Center, so there is no need to repeat it here. But the problem is not the Civic Center. How could it be, it's just a building. The problem is management and a lack of impetus to perform. The problem is SMG, Spectacor Management Group, a company founded in 1977 that manages many venues throughout the country, but can't seem to make the multimillion dollar Civic Center here in Peoria work. Could it be that this massive organization can afford to blow off the local needs as long as they continue to get their annual fees from our city fathers? Or could it be that they actually expect us to attend the events that are provided so that we can all contribute to the local economy and perhaps (God Forbid) make a profit? One thing for certain, the Civic Center expansion was ill timed. Embassy Suites in East Peoria, US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, and other competing venues seem to be attracting more and more of the money that was intended to come to Peoria. Why? Are they any closer to an airport than we are? No, we have an airport. Are they any easier to get to than we are? No, the 155 bypass made it as easy to get to Peoria as Bloomington from the south. So that leads me to believe that the problem is that SMG is not willing to adjust their rates to attract the acts we need to fill that arena, theater, and convention center with the events and performances that would attract those dollars to Peoria. One of the biggest draws for any arena in the area is Reba McIntire, who will be performing again this year in Bloomington. And there are many other concerts and events coming to Bloomington that should be in Peoria, IF SMG was willing to get competitive and go after them. Since the City Council has decided that we just can't afford to throw $37 million into a project that will apparently not do what we need it to, how about they keep the ball rolling and decide we can no longer afford to have SMG in charge of the Civic Center if it fails to fill it with attractions that will bring money to the economy?