Bart Rogers enters his fifth year as Vice President/General Manager of U.S. Cellular Coliseum Entertainment and Sports Properties, LLC, and his first season as a part owner of the Peoria Rivermen. He is also a part owner and operator of the SPHL’s Bloomington Thunder.
Rogers’ long standing career in the sports and entertainment industry has spanned more than 20 years. The 1992 graduate of Western Illinois University began his career as a Marketing/Public Relations intern with the Rivermen. He left in 2008 as one of the longest tenured employees in franchise history. While with Peoria, he held such positions as Director of Merchandise/Game Operations (1993), Assistant General Manger (1998), General Manager (2000) and ultimately, President/CEO (2004-2008).
In 2005, Rogers was instrumental in moving the Rivermen franchise from the ECHL (“AA” Hockey) to the American Hockey League (“AAA” Hockey) and forming a 10 year working relationship with the NHL St. Louis Blues.
Rogers serves on the Lincoln College Sport Management Advisory Board and was voted Vice Chairman of the Southern Professional Hockey League in June. He and his wife, Kirsten, curently reside in Morton, Illinois, and have two daughters: Hannah (15) and Elle (11).
Contact: 309-680-3809 - [email protected]
John Butler enters his first season as part owner of the Peoria Rivermen and his sixth year as owner of Central Illinois Arena Management, Inc., which manages the day-to-day operations for the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Illinois. He is also a part owner and operator of the SPHL’s Bloomington Thunder.
During a career that spans more than 26 years, Butler has held a variety of positions in the sports and entertainment industry, including the former president of the Rivermen in the East Coast Hockey League. In 2003, he was selected as the ECHL’s Executive of the Year.
Butler, 51, has also worked as Director of Marketing/General Manager of the Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club (1985-1990) and Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs for Bradley University (1990-1998).
A Bloomington native, Butler graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1981 and earned a master’s degree in sports management from Western Illinois University in 1986. He currently resides in Bloomington with his wife, Lynda, and their two boys, Jack and Jimmy.
Contact: [email protected]
A legend in Peoria’s hockey community, Bruce Saurs has saved the Rivermen franchise not once, but twice. He is currently a part owner of the team and also serves as an advisor and ambassador to the club. This past May, Saurs made loans to the new Rivermen management group to help launch the team.
A Peoria native, Saurs owned the franchise for nearly 20 years, through their IHL, ECHL and AHL eras. When the Blues abandoned the market and sold Peoria’s AHL team to Vancouver last spring, he returned, at age 87, with an ownership group that put the Rivermen back in business for their 32nd season, and first in the SPHL.
Saurs first purchased the team from the Peoria Civic Center in 1989, when the Rivermen were on the verge of leaving the local scene after six years in the IHL. The investment paid off as during the first six years of Saurs' ownership, the team won the coveted Turner Cup in 1990-91, the Central Division and Eastern Conference in 1993-94 and the Midwest Division and Eastern Conference in 1994-95.
David Hunt enters his first season as part owner of the Peoria Rivermen after serving 32 years in the Illinois state government at the Department of Revenue. He retired in 2012 and was identified as a fifth member of Peoria’s ownership group on Jun. 6, 2013.
Hunt, 54, held financial management positions for 23 years, 14 of which as CFO of the agency. He also spent three years as Director of Shared Services for Illinois’ Administrative and Regulatory agencies.
A resident of Normal, Illinois, Hunt graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University where he earned his degree in accounting. During his time there, he was also a fraternity brother of fellow Rivermen part owner John Butler.
Hunt is a member of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), for whom he was the president of the Springfield chapter. He is a certified government financial manager and served two terms on the board of examiners for the Illinois Foundation for Business Excellence.
Assistant General Manager - Tickets
Katie Pogeman is in her seventh season with the Rivermen and was named Assistant General Manager - Tickets for the team’s inaugural season in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The 29-year-old native of Lafayette, Indiana, had spent each of the past three seasons as the Director of Client Services after working the previous three years as an Account Executive for the team. She currently oversees the Rivermen merchandise store and works to create and maintain strong relationships with fans, sponsors and the community.
Pogeman is a graduate of Indiana University where she earned her degree in sports marketing and management with a minor in business. She has previous experience working in the baseball industry – interning with the Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club in 2007. She currently resides in Peoria with her husband, Jakob.
Contact: 309-680-3791 - [email protected]
Assistant General Manager - Corporate Partnerships
Mickey Gray joined the Rivermen as Director of Game Operations prior to last season and was named Assistant General Manager – Corporate Partnerships for the team’s inaugural season in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Previously, the 28-year-old native of Chicago worked with the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, Illinois, where he served as the Director of Game Operations and Sponsorship Sales for the Central Illinois Drive, Bloomington Edge and Bloomington Blaze. He currently oversees all of Peoria’s corporate partnerships.
Gray is a graduate of Lincoln College where he earned his degree in business administration in 2013. He and his wife, Allison, currently reside in Bloomington with their two dogs, Sydney and Duncan.
Contact: 309-680-3810 - [email protected]
Director of Media Relations/Broadcasting
Alan Fuehring was named Director of Media Relations/Broadcasting on September 16, 2013, and will handle play-by-play duties for the team’s inaugural season in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
Fuehring, 23, had been a key intern for the Rivermen in each of their past three seasons in the American Hockey League. During that span, he filled in as the broadcaster on several occasions and got the opportunity to call a handful of games for the then-AHL team.
A native of Morton, Illinois, Fuehring is no stranger to the area. He graduated from Bradley University in May, 2012, with a degree in sports communication. He also gained experience as an intern for the Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club in 2011.
Prior to joining the Rivermen, Fuehring spent the past year in Charlotte, North Carolina, producing video packages for the FOX SPEED Channel. He has also spent time in Los Angeles working for KABC-TV. His career in broadcasting began at Bradley, where he was a lead voice for many of the school's athletic teams including basketball, baseball and soccer.
Contact: 309-680-3763 - [email protected]
Director of Group Sales/Community Relations
Katie Hegler joined the Rivermen as an Account Executive in January, 2013, and was promoted to Director of Group Sales/Community Relations this past May. She currently handles much of the teams group and season ticket sales as well as the “Rocky’s Rascals Kids Club” and “Read to Success” programs.
The 26-year-old native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has held a number of unique jobs in the sports industry. Prior to joining the Rivermen, Hegler worked as a guest services representative at Northwestern University and was a fan services representative for the Chicago Bears during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. She also served as a promotions intern for ESPN Milwaukee in 2012.
Hegler is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she earned a Business Administration degree in marketing in May, 2012. She currently resides in Peoria with her fiancé, Matt, and their two cats, Jaxson and Dr. Sheldon Cooper.
Contact: 309-680-3562 - [email protected]
Evan Thomas, 23, enters his first season as an account representative for the Rivermen after spending the last two years as a sales and marketing intern with the team. He currently manages the team’s corporate accounts in regards to sponsorship and advertising opportunities.
A Peoria native, Thomas graduated from Illinois State University where he earned his degree in marketing in May, 2013. Over the past five years, he has also spent time scouting high school basketball players. Thomas currently resides in Peoria.
Contact: 309-680-3563 - [email protected]
Jim Small began working for the Rivermen as Sales Manager in 1992 and currently holds a part-time tickets/IT position with the team. His duties include setting up and maintaining the Ticketmaster database as well as handling a portion of single game ticket sales.
A native of Washington, Illinois, Small has worked a number of positions with the franchise including database management and co-driver of the team bus. He is also currently the official in-game blimp pilot. An army veteran (1967-1969), Small worked for Grayboy Cycle Center in Chillicothe and Peoria Heights for 18 years before joining the Rivermen staff.
He is a graduate of Western Illinois University and currently resides in Peoria with his wife, Jeanne. He has two step-children and during his free time, Small enjoys motorcycling, golfing, fishing and taking care of his two Great Pyrenees dogs and four cats.
Contact: 309-680-3778 - [email protected]
Video Coordinator & Partnership Sales
Frank Blain joined the Rivermen as a part-time sales associate this past May, although he has worked for the Peoria Civic Center since 1992.
Blain, 55, currently deals with many of the team's corporate partners and also directs the in-game video presentation for all Rivermen home games. In addition, he works with the Civic Center on Bradley University basketball games as well as other events in the arena.
A native of Eureka, Illinois, Blain graduated from Omega School of Communications in Chicago and started his own production company, Pro Video Productions. He resides in Peoria with his wife, Amy, and their daughter, Melissa, who helps with in-game replays at Carver Arena.
Contact: 309-680-3721 - [email protected]