Effort to convince Peoria Notre Dame to buy Peoria Stadium is building

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A “grassroots effort” to encourage Peoria Notre Dame to acquire Peoria Stadium  ̶  both to preserve it and give Notre Dame the football stadium it lacks  ̶  is picking up steam.

More than 700 people have gone online to change.org to sign a petition urging Notre Dame to sell its land at Willow Knolls and Allen Road and use that money to purchase the stadium from Peoria School District 150, preserving the stadium and surrounding green space and keeping it out of the hands of corporate entities such as WalMart.

The idea is favored by some of the community’s movers and shakers, including some candidates for the District 150 school board, but no public comments have been made by Peoria Notre Dame or the Peoria Diocese, as yet.

“This is a grassroots effort, comprised of concerned Peoria residents, to encourage Peoria Notre Dame High School to purchase the Peoria Stadium. We believe this is an exciting new vision for the residents and the neighborhoods of Peoria! “ says the site on www.change.org as well as a new website, www.pndsos.com, that is dedicated to the effort.

However, none of those concerned residents are identified. “We are a group of alumni, civic leaders, community leaders, and current PND parents with the common purpose to encourage PND to buy Peoria Stadium,” it says. 

Peoria Notre Dame broke ground more than two years ago on the land at Willow Knolls and Allen Roads and has graded much of it with the idea of building a sports complex  ̶  complete with football, soccer, track, baseball and softball facilities  ̶  for the Catholic high school to use. A new high school would eventually be built there, as well.

Peoria Notre Dame currently plays its home games at Peoria Stadium, which it must rent because it has no football stadium of its own.

However, that construction and the Peoria Notre Dame capital campaign behind it has stalled. No official reason has been given, but pndsos.com says it has stalled because of a lack of commitment, and thus funding, from Notre Dame parents and alumni who don’t believe that is the best location.

It believes the Peoria Stadium site is the best location because it is more centrally located for Notre Dame students and families.

“Peoria Stadium is available for purchase and it holds a special place in the hearts of virtually every Peorian who has fond memories of being there as an athlete, coach, cheerleader, parent or fan.  In 2013, the Neighborhoods voiced unanimous support to District 150 for continued sports/recreational use of the historic Peoria Stadium property.

“It is our goal that Peoria Notre Dame High School, with support from civic leaders, the neighborhoods, student body, alumni and donor base sell the property at Allen Road and use the funds to purchase, upgrade, and renovate Peoria Stadium,” the website says. It lists the benefits of doing so as:


The group behind pndsos.com has put a purchase analysis on the website that it says shows “that purchasing the Peoria Stadium is not only a viable option, but also a financially sound one.” The website further displays the petition signed by virtually every homeowners association in the city opposing the possible sale of the Peoria Stadium property to WalMart last year.


That analysis says it would cost $7.25 million to build the athletic facilities at Willow Knolls and Allen Roads and another $30 million to build a new high school. But that property could now be sold, it believes, for anywhere from $1.4 million to $7.1 million, with it being more valuable to a potential developer because it has already been graded.


While there is no purchase price listed for Peoria Stadium, pndsos.com says District 150 intends to sell it because it is building new athletic facilities at Peoria Central High School and doesn’t want to spend the money it would take to maintain the covered grandstand and other facilities at the stadium.


The stadium site consists of 64 acres with the football stadium and track, the covered grandstand and four lighted softball fields now maintained by the Peoria Park District.


“Purchasing this property would not only give PND immediate use of the stadium and ball fields, but plenty of space to construct soccer fields, tennis courts and an indoor multi use athletic facility (like the one at Galesburg High School). There could be money from the sale of the Allen Road site to fund all or part of the purchase and renovations,” the group says.


Doing this would keep the current Peoria Notre Dame High School as the “academic campus,” rather than building a new high school. However, many feel a new high school is needed to upgrade the technology for Notre Dame students and that the stadium is in need of costly repairs.


But some candidates for two open seats on the District 150 School Board favor this effort, including Dan Walther. He said he sees it as a win-win. “It would be a good deal for District 150 because it would be getting something for the property that would help some with the budget. It would be good for Notre Dame because it needs the facilities and the stadium is much more centrally located. Yes, there would have to be some work done to the stadium, but the amount of repairs District 150 said was needed was greatly exaggerated. The grandstand is structurally sound,” he said.


On the change.org page where people are asked to sign a petition, they also are invited to comment about their reasons for doing so. Most said it was so the local landmark that is Peoria Stadium could be preserved rather than sold to corporate interests, while many others said it was because the stadium site was a better location for the diocese. Many believe the idea makes the most sense.


Attempts to reach anybody connected with the Peoria Notre Dame capital campaign or the diocese to discuss this story were unsuccessful.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).