Edge and Drive owner isn't making money at U.S. Cellular Coliseum, wants out

By Audrey Williams

July 3, 2012 Updated Jul 3, 2012 at 10:13 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill -- The Central Illinois Drive and the Bloomington Edge both had winning seasons based out of Bloomington's U.S. Cellular Coliseum. What hasn't been winning is the pocketbook of the team's owner. Now, the owner, Jim Bob Morris, says he wants out.

"Winning doesn't relate and translate into financial profit in the minor leagues," said Morris.

Morris said both teams had winning seasons, but the community support and money just isn't there.

"Our last game check from the Coliseum was $680, $700, something like that. It equated to $.17 a person. Well, you can't run sports franchises at $0.17 a person," said Morris.

After one year as owner, Morris is now looking to sell.

"I'm just a business man," he said, "If people don't want it and you can't make money on it, it just doesn't happen."

However, Morris said he would be willing to keep the teams if some fundamental changes took place first.

"Marketing programs. From concessions to ticket pricing to ticket grouping to going out to the schools. There is just a myriad of issues that we are going to have to re-formulate," he said.

The city of Bloomington owns the coliseum. In 2005 they entered into a contract with Central Illinois Arena Management to manage the center, which includes indoor football and hockey teams.

"Both are important to the overall financial sustainability of the coliseum," said David Hales, Bloomington City Manager.

In April 2011 the coliseum turned its first and only profit. Now, City officials hope Central Illinois Arena Management can find new interest in the teams which can breathe new life into the coliseum.

"You have to realize that when you are new to the market you go through ownership change, name change. You have to be prepared to make those investments over the long-term," said Hales.

Still, Morris is not ruling anything out.

"We definitely want to continue the basketball operations and football operations, if they are financially feasible," said Morris.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.