Peoria mayor speaks out against Walmart interest in Peoria Stadium property

By Audrey Wise

June 18, 2013 Updated Jun 19, 2013 at 9:56 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis is voicing his concerns about a possible sale and development at the Peoria Stadium site.

At stake is 80 acres of prime green space, a historic stadium, ball diamonds, soccer fields, a park and walking trails.

In a tough financial position, this land has District 150 officials seeing green.

"I think everybody understands the financial situation that the district is in but kind of a quick decision with cash on the other end of the line probably doesn't make a lot of sense," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Lawyers for Walmart have expressed interest in the location to build a new Super Center. Just a day after the School Board discussed the situation publicly, Mayor Jim Ardis said he is against any big box store development in the area.

"I don't think that the city council is real anxious to consider a sale for that type of development," said Ardis.

If District 150 decides to sell, there are complications. The city council would have to approve any zoning changes. The Peoria Park District also holds a 25 year lease on much of the property, minus the stadium.

Mayor Ardis said this item is far from discussion on the council floor. On the other side, a Peoria Park District official says no one from the school district has reached out to discuss their lease.

"We've invited District 150 to come and talk to us and that has not occurred as of yet," said Peoria Park District Board Vice President, Jim Hancock.

Mayor Ardis said there are positives to development, like real estate and sales taxes but he said all parties involved need to look beyond the short term and have open discussions about what is best for the community.

"At the end of the day that the board is willing to sit down and listen to everyone and make a decision not just based on the fact that they need money, we need money," said Ardis. "It just has to be a more thoughtful discussion."