Article by Thomas Bruch at Peoria Journal Star: PEORIA — When the last balloons are cleared out following a New Year’s Eve concert by the Way Down Wanderers, it will mark the last show under the present venue name of the Limelight Eventplex.
The ownership group behind the Castle Theatre in Bloomington announced Thursday that it would be purchasing the Limelight Eventplex and re-fashioning the venue as the Monarch Music Hall beginning next year.
“They’ve been such a strong competitor to us,” said Rory O’Connor, a co-owner of the Castle Theatre. “We thought, ‘well, this is a pretty good opportunity.’”
According to Leon Edwards, the vice president of marketing for Inked Entertainment, which handled the talent buying and marketing for the venue, the owners in the Limelight Group were seeking to leave the industry by the end of the year. One of the owners now lives in Colorado, another planned on retiring and a third wanted to focus on his other businesses. By early fall, the Limelight had reduced its box office hours, trimmed its staff and was looking for a prospective buyer, according to Edwards.
The Castle owners stepped in from a mutual friendship with Billy Cowell, the owner of Inked Entertainment, as well as an admiration of the venue’s standing in the central Illinois music scene and its larger size.
“We’ve lost shows to the Limelight over the years,” said O’Connor, singling out the recent Flogging Molly concert this past fall. “They’ve been such a strong competitor to us.”
The new ownership group will take over on Feb. 1, with a grand opening for the Monarch Music Hall slated for March. Inked Entertainment will continue in its current role with the venue in helping buy talent and doing marketing work.
“The Castle has been a successful venue for more than seven years,” Edwards said. “They’re not Peoria, but they’re central Illinois, and that was important to us.”
The final scheduled show as the Limelight by the Way Down Wanderers will not be affected by the change in ownership. Likewise, the Tailgate ’N Tallboys Festival will not see any changes this summer, but the new ownership will be partnering with Inked to book shows on the Peoria riverfront, according to O’Connor. Monarch Music Hall will continue to serve as an event space, and O’Connor said he will be working to stabilize the private events currently booked at the venue.
The space will also receive upgrades during the ownership transition, including a new sound system and new flourishes to the exterior of the building to attract more attention. O’Connor did not disclose the purchase price but said that the investment in the upgraded sound system showed the group’s commitment to the Peoria market.
Several concert dates are already lined up for the spring, and O’Connor said to expect the same quality and eclectic shows at the Monarch that the Castle has become known for over the past seven years.
“Peoria’s got such a rich history, and that space has so much potential,” O’Connor said.
Thank you Limelight Customers for a great four years!
For more information please visit or contact:
Monarch Music Hall
Rory@thecastletheatre.com / 309-820-0352
Leon@inkedent.net / 309.224.9389
Tailgate N' Tallboys
Leon@inkedent.net / 309.224.9389