Coliseum – another lawsuit

By:  Diane Benjamin

The truth about the Coliseum has been hidden from the taxpayers for years.  It was intentional, even the City Council is in the dark.  John Butler’s BMI Concessions is an even bigger secret.  Butler set up a business inside a City owned asset, complete with a contract requiring set percentages of sales to be paid to the City.  Is the City getting paid their share?  It’s a secret.

CIAM started reporting with errors in 2011.  That’s when they decided Sales Tax and other items were Revenue when it’s not.  CIAM then paid themselves 4% on these items – David Hales evidently said nothing.  This practice continued until I began asking questions.  Most of the problems have been corrected, but a few items are still considered revenue when they really aren’t.  Maybe Hales will figure it out, I’m not holding my breath.

The external auditors issued their report during these years based on the real data.  CIAM should have been forced to return the management fees they paid themselves on non-compliant items.  Since their statements continued showing false information for years, I have no proof David Hales held them accountable.

Concessions are NOT part of this audit.  CIAM is run by John Butler and Bart Rogers.  They printed fictitious financial statements that the media gladly reported.  Since CIAM has been shown to be less than credible in their Coliseum reporting, do you believe the City is really getting their share of concessions?  It’s a secret.

The City of Bloomington purchased the Point-of-Sale equipment for the Coliseum.  They paid for it so sales could be tracked.  The Micros machines are capable of printing multi-page reports showing all financial aspects of each event held.

Last October I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the reports from the last big event held at the Coliseum – a 2 day country music concert.  The City denied my request.  I then filed another FOIA request just for the Concession Sales from the same 2 day event.  Again I was denied.  John Butler thinks the information is proprietary.  He thinks releasing the information will hurt his ability to contract with other acts.  Your right to know if the City is getting their share of the sales is immaterial, or maybe telling.  The Attorney General does not agree, she has ruled that documents in the hands of sub-contractors are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  Since the City owns the equipment, it’s even more obvious that the reports are subject to FOIA.

Even though the City has denied my requests, Jeff Jurgens (the $175 per hour City Attorney) told me last night he is working on getting the payroll from the Coliseum (another FOIA).  I asked about concessions, he said he was working on that too.  I told him I am not waiting indefinitely.

If John Butler and the City do not comply with the requests, I will be filing another lawsuit.  It will not be for just the 2-day event however.  I will surprise them next year when it’s also a felony to hide documents.

Meanwhile, Bart Rogers, the guy who is supposed to have the job of managing the Coliseum, spends time in Peoria as one of the owners of the Peoria Rivermen:

From the story:  Rivermen co-owner Bart Rogers, red-faced and animated, screamed and pumped his fist.

The Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM) contract specifies that 1 person must be the General Manager and that person is not allowed to have any other jobs.

Once again, rules and laws apply to us little people, but not those spending the tax dollars.

Don’t tell anyone though – it’s a secret.





10 thoughts on “Coliseum – another lawsuit

  1. Thanks Diane for shining a light on the incompetence of David Hales and city officials who somehow forget they have a job to do and work for the taxpayers. I shudder to think what real transparency would expose.


  2. You should look into whether or not any real estate taxes are being paid for the property leased to this company. The leaseholder MUST pay real estate taxes (not the city).


      1. Do they have exclusive access to any parts of the building/property where they store things (even food), and keys that the general public can never get access to? The Illinois Department of Revenue can decipher leased property when they see it, even if it is not necessarily labeled as leased/rented. If income is derived from the property for someone other than the city or its employees, real estate taxes must be paid.


  3. Seem to remember Hales being touted as some sort of “finance guy” when COB recruited and hired him. Perhaps we should play “six degrees of separation” to see just who is connected to Bart Rogers and John Butler. I know the Vonachens were at some point . . . Peoria has some powerful people and this wouldn’t be the first time Peorians have “used” Bloomington. Witness the Ensenberger building. That was owned by a wealthy Peorian who enjoyed Bloomington’s tax dollars to rehab. Bloomington has a long history of trying to compete or even keep up w/Peoria. Airport . . . Zoo . . . Ice Arena. Cripes, can’t we just face reality that Bloomington is too small a market to duplicate these amenities.


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