Doubt Bloomington would be in the running but stranger things have happened. Don't forget the contingent that is now in Bloomington set in motion the decline Peoria is seeing now.
This assertion is highly incorrect. The "decline" Peoria is seeing happened the day ownership announced they were leaving the ECHL for the AHL, funny as that sounds. But a check of attendance figures in Peoria will show this to be true. The move to the AHL "set in motion" the decline in Peoria, not the employees and former managers who ultimately went to Bloomington.
The "contingent now in Bloomington" didn't make the decision to move up to the AHL, the owners did, with not-a-little help from a local writer who stayed in Bruce's ear the whole time telling him it was the thing to do. The "contingent now in Bloomington" is the reason that it hasn't been any WORSE in the past few years.
BTW, here are the actual figures for Peoria's average attendance:
Current average: 3,745, 20th in AHL
2007-2008 4,441, 17th in league
2006-2007 4,255, 20th in league
2005-2006 4,780, 17th in league
2004-2005 (last year in ECHL) 4,785, 10th in league (the average was 5,609 in early November when the move to the AHL was announced)
2003-2004 5,101, 3rd in league
2002-2003 5,394, 4th in league
2001-2002 4,685, 7th in league
2000-2001 5,154, 6th in league
1999-2000 4,846, 10th in league
Except for the 2001-02 campaign, which was heavily affected by a lack of Saturdays and many weeknight games, the ECHL had finally taken hold in Peoria, with attendance figures approaching the old popular days of the IHL. The move to the AHL has proven to be a step back attendance-wise, no matter what the hockey product on ice is.
It should also be mentioned, in fairness to current staff, that this year's schedule is as bad as the 01-02 schedule for how many weeknight games there are, but many of the "best" dates (i.e. weekends) have already been played, and there are fully 7 Wednesday nights left, which will feature nearly empty houses.