Shea Stadium
Former namesMeinen Field (1970–1992)
Vonachen Stadium (1992–2002)
Location1523 W. Nebraska Ave., Peoria, Illinois
Coordinates40°42′35″N 89°37′6″W / 40.70972°N 89.61833°W / 40.70972; -89.61833Coordinates: 40°42′35″N 89°37′6″W / 40.70972°N 89.61833°W / 40.70972; -89.61833
OwnerBradley University
OperatorBradley University
Capacity3,800
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Broke ground1968
Opened1970
Renovated1982, 1992, 2002
Tenants
Bradley Braves (NCAA)
Baseball (1970–2001)
Soccer (2003–present)
Peoria Suns/Chiefs (MWL) (1983–2001)
Peoria City (USL2) (2021–)

Shea Stadium is a former baseball stadium located in Peoria, Illinois, less than a mile north of Bradley University and just to the west of the USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research. Converted to a soccer-specific facility in 2003, it is owned and operated by Bradley University and is the home of the Bradley Braves men's and women's soccer teams.[1]

History

The property broke ground around 1968[2] and opened as a baseball facility in 1970 for Bradley University Braves baseball. Its name was chosen to honor Bradley athletic director and baseball coach John "Dutch" Meinen.[3] It served as the home field for Bradley baseball for 32 years, from 1970 to 2001,[4] and the home field for the Peoria Chiefs from their first game on April 19, 1983 to 2001.

The Peoria Chiefs in action at the then-named Meinen Field in 1990
The Peoria Chiefs in action at the then-named Meinen Field in 1990

The baseball field was renovated twice: once in 1982,[3] and once in 1992[2] when it was given a $2.2 million overhaul.[5] The facility was renamed Pete Vonachen Stadium at Meinen Field on June 6, 1992, in honor of the Chiefs' owner.[2]

After the teams moved to O'Brien Field for the 2002 season, the university began to look for other uses for Meinen Field, eventually settling on its current setup as a soccer-only facility. It was substantially reconfigured, with a few remnants of its baseball days remaining: the old press box; most of the first-base seating area, which now forms the main seating area for the soccer field; some of the light standards; and the concession stands and some other outbuildings on the property.

On October 25, 2002, Meinen Field was renamed Shea Stadium after Tim Shea, a Bradley University alumnus. The first Bradley soccer game at the newly renovated Shea Stadium was in August 2003.[4]

On June 10, 2008, Shea Stadium played host to two Major League Soccer teams in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier when the Chicago Fire played against the Columbus Crew in front 3,829 people, the largest crowd ever to see a soccer game at Shea Stadium.[6]

On January 23, 2020, the USL League Two announced that Peoria City would start play in the 2020 season in the Hartland Division of the Central conference,[7] but the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

See also

References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c "Story of Baseball in Peoria". 2007-01-22. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  3. ^ a b Dinda, Joel (2008-01-20). "Peoria's Vonachen Stadium and O'Brien Stadium". Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  4. ^ a b "Shea Stadium". 2007-08-11. Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
  5. ^ "Peoria Baseball". Historic Peoria. Archived from the original on August 11, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
  6. ^ "Crew can't put out Fire". 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-11.[dead link]
  7. ^ Staff, USLLeagueTwo com (2020-01-23). "Peoria Unveiled as Newest League Two Expansion Club". USL League Two. Retrieved 2020-03-13.