BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Bloomington Partners LLC principal owner Barry Kemp announced today that the Bloomington, Illinois City Council unanimously approved a 10-year contract for Bloomington Partners to manage the day-to-day operations of a new downtown state-of-the-art multi-purpose facility. Scheduled to open in the Fall of 2005, the facility will include approximately 7,000 permanent seats, twenty four (24) luxury suites, 700 clubs seats, convention and meeting space, a sports bar and private club lounge with an attached community ice rink. Bloomington is located in central Illinois and is world headquarters for State Farm Insurance Companies and Country Insurance and Financial Services. (www.cityblm.org).
Bloomington Partners LLC will own and operate two professional sports teams – an ECHL hockey team and a locally-owned National Indoor Football team (NIFL). Bloomington Partners will also own and operate all food and beverage services in the new facility. Bloomington Partners will be responsible for all sales and marketing, including building sponsorships and merchandise.
Bloomington Partners ownership group is made up of five (5) individuals who have extensive track records in the sports and entertainment business. Kemp, a 25-year veteran in the entertainment industry is a minority owner of the NBA Phoenix Suns and currently has ownership interests in three ECHL teams, including the Long Beach Ice Dogs, the Texas Wildcatters and the Johnstown Chiefs. Kemp began his career as a writer for the Emmy Award-winning television series Taxi and has since created or produced 12 series, including Newhart, Fresno and Coach, garnering multiple Golden Globes, People’s Choice and Emmy Nominations. He also produced the feature films Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Patch Adams and Catch Me If You Can.
Mike Nelson, a native of Bloomington/Normal has been involved in the sports marketing and management industry for the past 18 years. As General Manager of the Peoria Chiefs Baseball Team from 1990-1993, he was instrumental in the renovation of Pete Vonachen Stadium. Nelson also generated record donations and marketing sales during his tenure as Assistant Athletic Director for Intercollegiate Athletics at Illinois State University in the mid-1990s. While serving as Vice President for the ECHL Peoria Rivermen hockey team from 1999–2004, Nelson was named “ECHL Marketing Director of the Year” in 2002-2003.
John Butler, a native of Bloomington, Illinois has 20 years of sports marketing experience in Central Illinois. Butler spent six years with the Peoria Chiefs baseball team while moving his way up as General Manager in 1987 (1984-1990). In 1990, he began his tenure as Associate Athletic Director of External Affairs for Bradley University handling the marketing, sales and fundraising for the Department of intercollegiate Athletics. In 1998, Butler was hired as President/COO of the Peoria Rivermen hockey team. In his second year, the Rivermen won the league championship placing themselves as one of the premier marketing and sales teams in the ECHL.
Rick Adams is the former President/CEO of the East Coast Hockey League. He has ECHL ownership interest in three ECHL teams, including the Long Beach Ice Dogs, the Texas Wildcatters and the Johnstown Chiefs. During Adams tenure with the ECHL, the league grew from 18 teams to 31 teams and established ECHL Properties LLC which developed relationships with more than 180 corporate partners. Began in 1988 with five teams in three states, the ECHL is the largest league in professional hockey and will have 30 teams in 17 states and one Canadian province playing 1,080 games in 2004-05. There have been 253 ECHL players that have advanced to the NHL, including a record 36 players in 2003-04 that appeared in the NHL after playing in the ECHL. The ECHL has affiliations with 21 of the 30 teams in the NHL in 2003-04 and there has been an ECHL player on each of the 30 NHL teams in 2003-04.
David LeFevre, former President of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League is a minority owner in three ECHL teams, including the Cincinnati Cyclones, the Texas Wildcatters and the Johnstown Chiefs. LeFevre was the driving force behind the expansion of NHL hockey in South Florida. He was responsible for the development, financing, construction and operation of the 19,758 seat Ice Palace in Tampa, Florida, which ranks as one of the top five venues in the United States.