The Illinois Valley can look forward to enjoying at least two more years of Pistol Shrimp games in Peru with free admission.
The Peru City Council approved an agreement Monday with the Pistol Shrimp to ensure the team uses the Veterans Park field for their 2023 and 2024 home games. In exchange, the city will pay the Pistol Shrimp $100,000 each season as an economic incentive, which will help cover would-be admission costs.
Mayor Ken Kolowski said he values the Pistol Shrimp games as an important recreational experience and said it was important to him to keep the games free of charge.
“It’s a great family atmosphere and it brings people in from all over,” Kolowski said. “It does boost hotels and it does boost restaurants and stuff like that, but over the last two years the community has just fallen in love with it.”
The Pistol Shrimp first agreed to play in Peru in 2021, and in 2022 the team was renewed for the same contract. Kolowski said the negotiations were tough, but the city was successful in renewing the same agreement for the next two years.
The city also will provide one police officer at all home games for security purposes, according to the agreement. This clause comes after there were issues over the summer where police were called largely regarding unsupervised children. The Pistol Shrimp didn’t provide their own security this summer and city officials agreed in August a security presence at the park was needed in the future.
According to the property use agreement, the Pistol Shrimp are approved to use the park on specified home game days from May to August in 2023 and 2024. Adam Thorson, director of parks and recreation for the city, said Monday the agreement will not interfere with the public’s general use of the park on all other days.
The agreement states Veterans Park is underutilized and Pistol Shrimp games will increase sales and hotel tax by bringing tourism to the area. It also cites public use and enjoyment as a potential benefit along with further beautifying and developing the park and city.
Kolowski said he wants to continue the partnership with the Pistol Shrimp.
“This is something that nobody else in the Illinois Valley has like this, and it’s free. That was important to me ... I want to keep this free,” Kolowski said. “I was up there many games last year and to see that many kids running around and having a good time off their phones, off their video games, out of their houses, it’s a good thing. And that’s the goal.”