Season Ending Letter From Rivermen COO/Owner Bart Rogers

March 15, 2020 - 07:30 pm

Season Ending Letter From Rivermen COO/Owner Bart Rogers


Peoria, IL – It is with sadness that I must update you on an outcome none of us within our organization, league, or industry would think could have been possible a week ago. By a unanimous vote, the Board of Governors with the SPHL has voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the pandemic spreading across the United States and the World.  


This decision was not taken lightly and was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my 25-plus year history of working in the Sports and Entertainment field.  Seeing the financial devastation to our organization and even far greater to some of our member teams who had 7 games left at home to play was just a sinking feeling. With the Illinois State Mandate for venues of the size of the Peoria Civic Center to not hold events over 250; our decision, along with other teams’ similar restrictions gave our league no choice but to end the season now and not wait 6-7 weeks for the possible restrictions to be lifted.


Despite the devastating financial impact, this is the right thing to do currently for the safety of our players, staff, and most importantly, the great fans of this organization.


As I touched on yesterday, this season has been another for the records that we all should be proud of and it would not have been possible without the support of our front office staff, hockey staff, Rivermen players, season ticket holders, corporate sponsors, off-ice officials, booster club, and all hard working full and part-time staff from the Peoria Civic Center.  We can’t thank you enough for each of your contributions to make Rivermen Hockey what it is and was this season.  To end the season in First Place again is no small feat with the challenges of ECHL Call Ups, Europe deflections, and injuries throughout the year.   Kudos to Coach Jean-Guy Trudel for your leadership on the ice making sure our great fans continue year end and year out to watch a winning hockey club.  To our players, I’m sorry and have no words to what we are witnessing.  You gave it your all and played all season long through adversity and came out on top of the standings again…IMPRESSIVE!


Where do we go from here?   As we stand, our number one priority is to get our players on the road home safe and sound to be with their families who are worried for their well-being.   Contrary to what I wrote yesterday, our offices will be closed all next week and we will update you on the status of refunds and credits for those that have those coming to you with the weeks ahead.  Our goal is to call you and discuss directly your options instead of trying to contact us. Bear with us as we will have a lot of work to do from remote locations but we’ll get to you and we just ask for your patience.  


The financial impact and lost revenue this season will be substantial.  Despite this setback, we will move forward through the challenging times and now more than ever, we will need your support, your friends, and our corporate partners to get it all back up and going when that time comes.  


In the meantime, stay safe throughout this pandemic and our entire Rivermen Organization can’t wait to celebrate hockey again on opening night real soon! 


Go Rivermen!


Bart Rogers