Bradley prepares to celebrate four million fans

By Josh Simon

January 29, 2013 Updated Jan 29, 2013 at 11:11 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- When the Bradley basketball team hosts I-74 rival Illinois State Tuesday night, history could be made as the Braves may reach a Carver Arena milestone.

Right now, the seats are empty but Tuesday night, they will be filled with fans cheering on the Bradley, and possibly the 4 millionth fan to watch the Braves since they moved to the Civic Center in 1982.

"We've had an amazing history at the civic center for 30 years now and the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishment and the history and tradition of having four million people walk through our doors is something we're very appreciative of our fans," said Bradley Athletic Director Michael Cross. "We appreciate all that they do for us and the support they've shown Bradley throughout the years."

For 31 seasons, the Braves have called Carver Arena home, winning 330 of the 450 games they have played downtown. It is a partnership that has been good for both Bradley and the Civic Center.

"Bradley is a huge part of who we are and what we do. We've worked with Bradley and their administration the whole 30 years they've been here to make this their home court," said Peoria Civic Center General Manager Jim Wetherington, "which is rather odd because they're a few miles away. It takes some extra effort but their staff is phenomenal and my staff is great working with them to create a harmonious working environment for everybody."

"The best sign that your running a successful business is that you have repeat customers," said Cross. "Bradley has repeat customers. Many of the people who will contribute to us reaching four million fans have come back year after year after year. They bring the passion, they bring the energy, the memories, the history, the lore that surrounds Bradley Basketball."

Bradley fan Ray Picl has been coming back year after year since 1938. He said he still misses the Fieldhouse but said it does not matter where they play especially when they are winning.

"There's nothing like a winning season, that'll draw a crowd," said Picl. "That'll draw more Braves club members, draw more fans. Like I said, I just hope it gets going. I'm 84 years old, I want to see it grow fast soon."

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