Preparing for the Flying Aces

Workers apply logos for sponsors of the Central Illinois Flying Aces hockey team in October 2017 at Grossinger Motors Arena in downtown Bloomington. The team announced Thursday it will temporarily leave the United States Hockey League for the 2019-20 season.

BLOOMINGTON — The future of a hockey team playing at downtown Grossinger Motors Arena was put in jeopardy Thursday when the Central Illinois Flying Aces announced they received a one-year temporary withdrawal from the United States Hockey League for the 2019-20 season.

Zoran Rajcic, who is a vice president for CSH International, Inc. of Everett, Wash., which owns the Flying Aces, didn't paint a bright picture of the franchise remaining in the Twin Cities when the 2020-21 season rolls around.

“After the last few seasons the (financial) losses have been too insurmountable to stay in that marketplace,” said Rajcic when reached Thursday night.

The Aces' five-year lease with Grossinger Motors Arena expires after the end of this season. Rajcic said the team has been in talks with the 17-team league USHL about what its options were, and asking for a year's leave of absence was among the topics discussed.

Also discussed was finding local ownership or another arena within a 75-mile radius as allowed by league rules. Neither was successful, said Rajcic.

“There was a timeline for the league that they needed to prepare for next season and making the schedule,” he said.

Rajcic said the team has fulfilled all the terms of its lease and all its bills have been taken care of.

“We have paid every cent and are not in arrears anywhere,” he said.

The Bloomington Prairie Thunder began play in the new U.S. Cellular Coliseum in 2006, competing in the United Hockey League.

The Aces, who are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, have six home games left this season at Grossinger Motors Arena beginning with Friday's 7 p.m. contest against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.

Photos: Central Illinois Flying Aces camp kicks off

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