Sports fans, rejoice: Whether you’re a participant or a spectator, there are plenty of opportunities to get your game on in Greater Peoria. Here’s a look at a few of our hometown favorites — and the venues where you’ll want to grab a front-row seat!
Let’s Play Two
Familiar with names like Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Nomar Garciaparra, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg? These baseball legends all played or managed at one time or another for the Peoria Chiefs.
Established in 1983 as a franchise of the California Angels, the Chiefs have since switched affiliations back and forth between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Currently, they’re a High A affiliate of the Cardinals and play in Peoria’s Warehouse District at Dozer Park. Take in a game or two and you could see a future Hall of Famer in action!
Calling All Puckheads
Prefer sticks and pucks to bats and balls? Head to the Peoria Civic Center to catch the Peoria Rivermen. Professional ice hockey has been playing in Greater Peoria since 1982 — and the Rivermen once held the record for the sport’s longest winning streak. Today, they’re members of the Southern Professional Hockey League, an independent minor league, and took home the title in the 2021-2022 season. If you or the kids want to hit the ice yourself, check out the Owens Center for youth and adult hockey and ice skating along with open skate sessions.
Hoop It Up
For college sports fans, the Bradley Braves offer a full slate of men’s and women’s NCAA Division I action. The men’s basketball team, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference and plays at the 12,000-seat Carver Arena in downtown Peoria, has appeared in nine NCAA Tournaments over the years, including two Final Fours and national championship games in the 1950s. Head to the official Bradley Braves website for a look at all the university’s sports team and schedules. Across the river in East Peoria, the Illinois Central College women’s basketball team has long been a powerhouse on the NJCAA circuit, with six national championships and 30 national tournament appearances in the past half century.
Wave the Checkered Flag
The Peoria Speedway, a quarter-mile high-banked dirt oval, generally hosts Saturday events spring through fall. Races include Late Models, Modifieds, Crate Modifieds, Sportsmans and Hornets divisions, with special events mixed in. For racing fun on two wheels, check out the Peoria Motorcycle Club, chartered by the American Motorcyclist Association. The club sponsors multiple flat-track events each year, including the Peoria TT — one of the most prestigious and competitive races in the country.
Start Them Young
Are your kids itching to try out a sport or two? The Peoria Park District and other park districts around the region offer a host of youth leagues, from baseball and basketball to boxing, golf, hockey and more. Youth soccer is huge in Greater Peoria — check out Peoria FC United and the John Gaspar Soccer Academy for camps, leagues, programs, tournaments and more. There’s also baseball, flag football and volleyball (plus adult leagues) at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex, which features a 125,000-square-foot dome, 10 synthetic turf fields and a 1,300-seat stadium. EastSide Centre is another youth sports mecca that plays host to multiple events and tournaments. You’ll find more than a dozen baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse fields at EastSide, as well as indoor basketball courts and a 20,000-square-foot gym.
Hit Your Stride
Whether you’re a competitive runner or just enjoy lacing on your running shoes for a good cause, you’re in luck. Charity and fun runs are on the schedule throughout the year. Visit ShaZam Racing and Illinois Valley Striders for race info and registration. And every June, Greater Peoria welcomes thousands of runners to the Steamboat Classic, which includes four-mile — described by some as the world’s fastest — and 15K road races. World-best times for both men and women have been set at the Classic over the years. It’s your chance to compete against Olympic-caliber athletes!