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Peoria Pirates af2 Cease Operations Media Release

September 7, 2009 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Peoria Pirates News Release

(PEORIA): The Peoria Pirates late today announced that they are ceasing operations and will not play the 2010 season. Managing Local Owner Jim Foster, announced that Majority Owner Doug MacGregor of Austin, Texas made the final decision to cease team operations after a serious effort over the last three months to put together a group of qualified local investors to take over the majority interest/operations of the Pirates was not successful.

That effort, led by Foster focused on identifying Peoria area prospects who were recognized and respected community leaders with a pre-established interest in the Pirates and Arena Football, as well as having the necessary qualifications to meet League financial requirements to be owner/operators. A small group of qualified, interested prospects had begun to come together, but the final League deadline of September 8 for submitting the required investor documentation and financial commitments could not be met in time.

MacGregor brought the arena football 2 League member Pirates back into the Peoria market in 2008 after a several year absence under the on field leadership of former Head Coach Bruce Cowdrey. In 2002, Cowdrey coached the Pirates to an ArenaCup title with a 15-5 record, defeating the Florida Firecats before an intense, packed, partisan crowd in the Peoria Civic Center, 65-47. The Pirates enjoyed significant fan and sponsor support in their early years of operation from 1999-2004, before a change in ownership took place, the team dropped out of the af2 and the popular Cowdrey departed as their Head Coach with an af2 coaching record of (36-36).

Unfortunately, after rejoining the af2 in 2008, the Pirates did not regain the positive, popular status they had previously held, either on the playing field or in the Peoria market place, struggling to a 4-12 record in 2008 before small paid attendances, and a 1-5 record in the early 2009 season, at which time Bruce Cowdrey was replaced by one of the winningest head coaches in Arena Football League, (AFL) history, Mike Hohensee, the former Head Coach of the Chicago Rush. Under Hohensee, the Pirates began to turn their badly listing ship around, winning four games before growing, re-energized home crowds and coming close to making the 2009 playoffs.

In the end, the changes on the field, as well as major changes in the staffing and the operations of the front office made by Foster, who took over local team operations several weeks before the 2009 training camp began, came to late to attract sufficient local owners to move on to 2010. (Foster, is the inventor of Arena Football, the founding AFL Commissioner and previous owner of several successful Arena Football teams, the Iowa Barnstormers, (AFL) and the near by Quad City Steamwheelers, (af2).

Foster thanked the management and administration of the Peoria Civic center for their their role and support in attempting to secure local investors for the team. "The PCC (management), Doug MacGregor and I all believe that a properly run, competitive Arena Football team can be successful in the Peoria area market. The window of opportunity still exists, in part, because the Peoria area does not have a major college football program to enjoy and support. Credible, local area group ownership and their active involvement is in many cases today, key to making a pro team operate successfully."

Foster on behalf of Doug MacGregor, also thanked the loyal base of Pirates fans and sponsors who continued to support the Pirates through the 2009 season. "The issue that is the hardest for me is the disappointment this creates for the very loyal base of fans the Pirates who have continued to support their team." Sadly, the problem is not the hard core, loyal fans, but the basic business fact that if a pro sports team is not competitive enough in a very competitive entertainment marketplace, (coupled with a currently depressed economy), it is not going to generate sufficient interest to turn latent, "fair weather" fans into active fans spending enough money to meet its operating budget. Unlike college and high school teams, pro teams that continue losing money cease to be and that is not the fault of the loyal fan."

The Pirates will wind down their operation this week with a CLOSE OUT SALE from 10 AM-5:30 PM Wednesday-Thursday at their team shop and offices in downtown Peoria at 206 SW Adams St, (street level between Robert Morris College and Jimmy John's). They will sell off everything at a deep discount including: remaining Pirates team merchandise, actual game helmets, game jerseys and pants, shoulder pads and other football equipment, including a near new down markers/chains set, sideline water coolers and more. All office equipment including desk top and lap top computers, a new multi DVD burner unit, desks, desk chairs, file cabinets and shelving units will also be sold off. Call 309-673-1000 for more info.

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