PEORIA — This is known as a basketball city, although perhaps not on playing surfaces as narrow as 30 inches.
A Peoria native wants to help change that.
Pop-A-Shot Enterprise plans to move its business from north-central Kansas to the Warehouse District, with an opening planned for November.
The company manufactures arcade-type electronic basketball-shooting games that can fit in a family room. A chute below the hoop returns the ball to the shooter.
The machines also have been common in sports-themed restaurants and bars. The NBA recently sponsored a league-wide Pop-A-Shot competition.
Pop-A-Shot’s relocation is considered a thank-you to Peoria, according to someone who became a legendary figure at Bradley University. Although not on the basketball court.
Ken “Moose” Goldin spent more than a half-century on the Hilltop, mostly as an administrator. His daughter is Kelly Stucker, wife of Pop-A-Shot owner Anthony Stucker.
In 2016, advertising and publishing specialist Stucker purchased Pop-A-Shot from its founder, Ken Cochran. He established the company in 1981 in Salina, Kan.
Kelly Stucker is a marketer who attended high school at old Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute in Peoria. When Pop-A-Shot was seeking to expand recently, she telephoned her dad.
“'Before we look for another site in Kansas, with Caterpillar leaving Peoria, we’d like to maybe explore the situation in Peoria,'” the retired Goldin said Tuesday night in recounting the conversation.
“Working for Bradley for 50 years and my daughter being a Bradley graduate, basketball just fits into the family,” he said.
Goldin spoke for his son-in-law after the City Council approved $250,000 from its revolving loan fund to help Anthony Stucker establish Pop-A-Shot in Peoria. He was in Hong Kong on company business.
For $450,000, Stucker purchased buildings in the 900 block of Southwest Adams Street to house his enterprise and others. Pop-A-Shot is to occupy about 7,700 square feet.
The total investment is expected to be $1.65 million, according to city documents. The municipal loan is contingent upon $960,000 from a private lender and $440,000 of equity from Stucker, in the form of his suburban San Francisco house.
A federal grant 31 years ago provided $500,000 in seed money for the city’s revolving loan fund, intended for small businesses. Through interest, the fund's capital base had grown to $1.26 million as of December.
“I think that’s important to note,” At-Large Councilwoman Beth Jensen said. “That does not come out of our budget.”
An independent committee approved the Pop-A-Shot loan, according to Cesar Suarez, a senior development specialist for the city.
Second Distirct Councilman Chuck Grayeb said constituents might be justifiably gun-shy about city loans to private businesses, given the troubles with the Downtown hotel project. Taxpayers are on the hook for $7 million there.
Still, Grayeb joined seven colleagues and Mayor Jim Ardis in voting to approve the Pop-A-Shot loan. Only At-Large Councilman John Kelly dissented.
Eventually, Pop-A-Shot is expected to employ about 20 people in Peoria, where games will be assembled and customized.
“This (loan) program is doing exactly what we were hoping it would do,” 4th District Councilman Jim Montelongo said.
“Peoria is known for basketball. This is a different type of basketball here, but I think it fits.”
Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.