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City Seeks To Dismiss Ex-Arena Manager's Lawsuit

John Butler in court
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
John Butler during his arraignment Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at the McLean County Law and Justice Center.

The former managers of Bloomington’s downtown arena are not owed any unpaid commission money because those sponsorship deals violated their management agreement with the city, according to a new court filing.

The City of Bloomington’s motion to dismiss comes in response to a lawsuit filed Nov. 13 by Central Illinois Arena Management (CIAM). The company, owned by John Butler, claims the city owes it $67,175 in unpaid commissions.

Butler’s CIAM managed the city-owned arena from 2005 until March 31, 2016. Then in September 2017, Butler and four of his former employees were indicted on more than 100 criminal counts of theft, fraud, and money laundering. They’re accused of an elaborate scheme that skimmed off Coliseum concession fees, over-billed for cleaning supplies, and disguised other charges. Exact figures are not known; the charges indicate theft of around $1 million.

In its lawsuit, CIAM claims it signed sponsorship and suite deals with seven companies from 2011 to 2015, and those agreements remained in effect through March 31, 2016. That means the city still owes CIAM all the commission money earned from those deals in the 19 months since, even those CIAM doesn’t run the arena anymore, the lawsuit claimed.

In its motion to dismiss filed Dec. 14 in McLean County court, the City of Bloomington attacks CIAM’s lawsuit on two fronts.

The city claims that its management agreement with CIAM required the city to approve any sponsorship agreements that stretched past the contract’s expiration date of March 31, 2016.

CIAM “was not authorized to enter into the Customer Agreements and is not entitled to any commissions after March 31, 2016,” the motion reads.

Bloomington’s attorney, Greg Moredock, also argues for dismissal because CIAM failed to include a copy of the management agreement or those sponsorship agreements in its original lawsuit.

“CIAM had the duty and requirement to attach any contracts, agreements, and other written documents forming the basis of its complaint, but failed to do so,” Moredock wrote.

The lawsuit is scheduled for a status hearing May 4.

The criminal case against Butler and the four other defendants remains pending. They’ve pleaded not guilty.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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