Coliseum Hockey History – not pretty

by:  Diane Benjamin


“A tremendous amount of time and energy has been put into making this day a reality,” stated Mike Nelson, General Manager & Chief Marketing Officer of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. “We feel that we have chosen the right league for the great city of Bloomington. The UHL is a league that has a great reputation along with great regional rivalries for our team here in Bloomington. We look forward to dropping the puck in October of 2006 in the United Hockey League.”

“Hockey will be a great asset to the city of Bloomington, and we will recommend approval of a lease for the hockey team by the City Council,” stated John Butler, Building Manager & Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.


After one season of play on the ice at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, ownership of the Bloomington PrairieThunder has shifted, a move that all but ensures the team will remain in the United Hockey League for the 2007-08 season.

Tony Lisman of Muskegon, Mich., has assumed full ownership of the PrairieThunder from partners John Butler and Mike Nelson, the team announced Tuesday


Family is the best word to describe members of the new ownership group, who initially invested in the Bloomington PrairieThunder earlier this year.

Bloomington-Normal lawyer Tim Leighton came forward as the “lead owner” of the PrairieThunder when Muskegon businessman Tony Lisman sold the team, stating it was in the best interest of the International Hockey League franchise to have local ownership.



A contract with Head Coach Brian Gratz is being finalized.  The focus on stabilizing the hockey scene locally excited Holt and his ownership group, which consists of Central Illinois Management President John Butler, U.S. Cellular Coliseum General Manager Bart Rogers, and long-time Rivermen owners Bruce Saurs and his son Tim.  

The challenge between Bloomington and Peoria has already been established.  Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner praised the efforts of the new owners and even warned the City of Peoria what domination from its neighbor to the southeast will look like.


Press Realease

CSH International Inc. to formally introduce its new team and head coach Dennis Williams at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum

CSH International Inc. is proud to announce it will hold an introductory press conference for the addition of the Bloomington Thunder to the United States Hockey League (USHL) on Wednesday, April 16 at Noon at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum (Bud Light Lounge). The press conference will also include a formal introduction of General Manager Kurt Silcott, Head Coach Dennis Williams, as well as an introduction of the new ownership group to fans, sponsors and the media.
Along with Williams, Skip Prince (Commissioner of the USHL), Bill Yuill and Gary Gelinas of CSH International Inc., will be on hand for the official introduction to offer insight and answer questions.
The press conference is open to the general public and everyone is encouraged to attend. In addition, CIAM will host a complimentary free lunch to all those in attendance.

Now watch CIAM’s John Butler praise the latest hockey franchise at last night’s Council meeting.  He briefly talked about past teams – he must have forgotten he owned the last one.  Start watching at 1:28:44

Have they finally found a winner?








One thought on “Coliseum Hockey History – not pretty

  1. Dysfunctional. A city government has absolutely no expertise in overseeing or managing these public venues is a large part of the reason that it always operates in the red. City council members from all walks of life with full time jobs, families, etc., cannot take a crash course and “get it” doing this on a part time basis. They need to stop the bleeding. Sell off the bad producers, write of the loss and move forward instead of digging a deeper hole.

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