By: Diane Benjamin
I’ve written many stories about the Coliseum and the history of mismanagement and fraudulent reporting by Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM).
I was contacted today by a person who wishes to remain anonymous. Read the story, then you decide if John Butler and Bart Rogers should be fired. The City of Bloomington built the Coliseum when the citizens said NO, they raised the Sales Tax rate to pay for it, they fail to hold CIAM accountable, and they subsidizes operations because it doesn’t turn a profit. Taxpayers deserve to at least have competent management. CIAM isn’t it.
I attended an event at the Coliseum. I’d never set foot in the building before, but some of my friends and family wanted to attend the Guns and Hoses Hockey game. Since I also have friends on both the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, and since the event was to benefit Special Olympics, I decided to go. I bought several tickets. Interestingly, the tickets were not for the 4pm ‘Guns and Hoses’ game, but were for the 7pm Bloomington Thunder game. Strange. We were told the tickets were good for both events..‘Guns and Hoses’ was to start at 4pm. We arrived at 3:40. People were lined up at the entrances and at the Box office door. The building was locked. At about 3:50, a Coliseum staff member came out and told us to wait by the Main (across from the Law and Justice Center) entrance. We did. Several hundred of us. At about 4pm, we were finally allowed in, single file through one single door – near the Box Office. It was comical. Supporters of the Police and Fire Departments and the Special Olympics, herded like cattle. Young kids, who by this time were cold, were upset. Older folks were forced to wait too. OK, maybe comical was a bad choice..We finally got inside and were herded (I’m guessing about 500 of us) through the ‘Lounge’ area. Where one, single concession stand was open. The line was in excess of 15 minutes. People who were selfish enough to want to buy popcorn, soda or a beer, missed about a period of the game..Don’t take this to in any way speak ill of the Police or Fire Departments, or the Special Olympics. The guys on the floor played their hearts out (and frankly it wasn’t about hockey at all) and the representatives of Special Olympics was very appreciative and gave an impressive speech. A huge amount of organization had to have been involved on the part of BFD and BPD. They are to be commended. Unfortunately, the entire affair was rushed and we were hurried out the door at about 5pm. That is the result, once again, of a mismanaged facility..The Coliseum missed a great opportunity. They had the chance to show off the facility to a group that probably would have supported them in the future. I believe that the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments were used. They were used by Coliseum management to sell Bloomington Thunder Tickets. Had I had the option of donating $20 each for tickets to Guns and Hoses, I would have done that rather than buying a $10 Thunder ticket..I also have to wonder about concessions. Will those profits be given to Special Olympics? Somehow I doubt it. The possibility that CIAM may have profited more from this event than the Special Olympics is truly perverted, but not surprising.