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Chris Hajt Named Ontario Reign Assistant Coach

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Hajt returns to the Reign after two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres – Hajt was previously with the Kings organization from 2014-17

ONTARIO, CA – The Ontario Reign, proud AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, announced today that Chris Hajt has been named as an assistant coach.

Hajt joins Jaroslav Modry as assistant coaches on Head Coach Mike Stothers’ staff.

Hajt, 40 (July 5, 1978) returns to the Reign after two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Hajt previously served as an assistant coach with Ontario from 2015-17 and with the Manchester Monarchs during the 2014-15 season, winning a Calder Cup championship in 2015. With Ontario, Hajt helped the Reign qualify for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2016.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native has more than 10 years of coaching experience throughout his career. Hajt was a part of the OHL’s Guelph Storm from 2008-14, as an assistant coach for six seasons and as the team’s assistant general manager for one. Hajt helped lead the Storm to the 2014 OHL Championship and a second-place finish at the 2014 Memorial Cup.

As a player, Hajt skated in 582 career professional games across six leagues, including six games in the National Hockey League with the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals. The former blueliner appeared in 477 AHL games with Hamilton, Portland and Lowell and also had stints in the ECHL, DEL, Liiga and Serie A.

The Ontario Reign will begin the 2019-20 season, their fifth as members of the American Hockey League, in October 2019. For more information on the upcoming season, as well as the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic, to be held in Ontario, visitontarioreign.com, and to secure your seats with a Reign ticket plan, call 909.941.7825.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Sports Business

$1.7 million project with lead partner San Manuel Band of Mission Indians provides quality, safe space for over 9,800 San Bernardino youth

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Home Run for Youth: Dodgers Foundation and Partners Unveil New Dreamfields at Blair Park

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), with lead partner San Manuel Mission Band of Indians and in collaboration with the City of San Bernardino, will proudly unveil Dodgers Dreamfields 61, 62 and 63 at Blair Park on Saturday, May 18. These fields bring LADF closer to completing its goal of 75 fields by 2033 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles in 1958.

The ceremony, which culminates the construction of LADF’s latest project, will include a brief program featuring remarks from LADF CEO Nichol Whiteman, City of San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran, and additional partners and sponsors. Special guests include Los Angeles Dodgers Third-base Coach Dino Ebel. Following the unveiling, local San Bernardino youth baseball and softball players will participate in a skills clinic on the new fields.

This $1.7 million transformative investment will support youth ages 5-18 with three refurbished fields. Crucial upgrades at Blair Park include new playing surfaces and grass, enclosed fields, upgraded dugouts, upgraded irrigation systems, new pitchers’ mounds, bullpens and LED scoreboards resembling Dodger Stadium.

“The unveiling of three new Dodgers Dreamfields is a celebration of the power of community, the joy of play, and the boundless potential of our youth,” said Nichol Whiteman, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. “These fields represent dreams taking flight and where transformative play ensures every child has a place to dream, grow and shine.”

LADF’s newest refurbishments were made possible by a nearly $1.3 million grant from lead partner San Manuel Mission Band of Indians, and it is the largest gift for a Dodgers Dreamfield project to date. Additional project sponsors include Security Benefit, LA84 Foundation and the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. The fields constructed, as a result of these strategic partnerships, align with LADF’s new Strategic Plan: Lasting Impact for Los Angeles, which builds upon its successes by amplifying best practices, scaling solutions to reach more Angelenos, growing its capacity, and refining its work to create a lasting impact for Los Angeles.

“Our partnership with the youth of the Inland Empire region continues to grow just like the boundless energy, creativity, and pursuits of our bright young people,” said Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman of San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. “Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels is only the most recent example of the potential of San Bernardino youth. We are confident that future Major League Baseball stars will crowd the Dreamfields at Blair Park very soon!” 

According to Parks for California, 65% of San Bernardino residents live in areas with less than three acres of park space per 1,000 people, and 39% live further than half a mile from a park, where the national average is 55%. Upon completion of the fields, over 9,800 youth under 18 living in San Bernardino will have access to a safe place to play and baseball and softball programming at Blair Park. The City of San Bernardino hopes the project will help curtail these statistics and help maintain the city’s vibrant and unique culture.

LADF builds and refurbishes baseball and softball fields in underserved communities through the Dodgers Dreamfields program, providing families with safe havens and points of pride in their neighborhoods. Dodgers Dreamfields are game-changers, revitalizing green spaces to help re-energize the community’s involvement in baseball and softball while boosting the safety of local parks and providing a place where neighbors can gather, exercise and play. Since 2003, LADF has invested over $20 million to refurbish 63 Dodgers Dreamfields and provide more than 400,000 kids access to playable baseball and softball fields. 

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Firebirds TV Broadcasts Resonating Around the Coachella Valley

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Locally Televised Hockey Broadcasts Bring All the Home Team Action to Desert Residents

In addition to record setting attendance across the season and during the current Calder Cup Playoff run, the Coachella Valley Firebirds are also registering strong ratings on local television. Select games have aired locally on the stations of Gulf California Broadcast Company, including KESQ, Fox11 and CW5.

“We’ve enjoyed having the 12 Firebirds games on our group of stations and have been pleasantly surprised by the TV ratings”, says Jerry Upham, General Manager of Fox 11, KESQ News Channel 3 and the four other Gulf California Broadcast Company stations. “The advertiser support and viewer response has been very positive, and we look forward to carrying more games in the future”.

More local residents are turning to the televised games to support the valley’s first professional sports team, as the Firebirds make a deep run into the Calder Cup playoffs. Since the first broadcast on December 18th, the audience has doubled for Firebirds playoff coverage.

The Firebirds triple overtime victory on May 15th attracted an average audience of around 3500 viewers, with the final half hour (and final overtime) winning the time period among all of the local stations.

The hockey broadcasts include in-arena pre-game, intermission, and post-game shows, hosted by Gino LaMont with Hockey Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr. The in-game play-by-play is handled by Evan Pivnick, the voice of the Coachella Valley Firebirds, with Fuhr providing color commentary. KESQ sports director Blake Arthur and other on-air talent from News Channel 3 provide rinkside player, coach, and fan interviews.

Tune in to catch LaMont, Fuhr, Pivnick, and Arthur this Thursday for coverage of game one of the Western Conference Finals on Fox11. The pregame show begins at 6:30pm with puck drop at 7pm.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS START THURSDAY

The Firebirds will take on the Milwaukee Admirals in the latest round of Playoffs with the winner of this best of seven series advancing to the Calder Cup Finals.  The Firebirds continue to turn up the heat and are burning white hot as they enter Round 4 of the Playoffs. Fans are encouraged to wear white to all Round 4 home games. In addition, pre-game events will kick off for all home games at 5:30 p.m. featuring live music, fan photo ops with Fuego, Firebirds merchandise, food & beverage specials at The Oasis outdoor patio and much more!

Fans are encouraged to arrive early on game days and be seated ahead of the 7 p.m. puck drop for special pre-game Rally the Valley entertainment to help cheer on the home team at Acrisure Arena! Tickets are on sale now with individual tickets starting at just $29 and group tickets (10 or more people) beginning at $25. Visit CVFirebirds.com to purchase and learn more information.

Season tickets for the Firebirds’ 2023-24 campaign are on sale now! For a full list of benefits and more information on Season Ticket Memberships for the 2023-24 season, click HERE or call 760-835-8778.

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Entertainment

Inland Empire Collaborative Launches with Grand Celebration

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Powering the Future of Sports & Entertainment through Collaboration

The Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) is pleased to announce the successful launch of the Inland Empire Sports & Entertainment Collaborative (IESEC). The vibrant launch party took place yesterday at the popular Topgolf in Ontario, attracting an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 200 attendees.

The event was graced by a lineup of notable speakers, including Dave Allen, West Region President for NASCAR, James Washington, President of the NFL Alumni Southern California Chapter, Michael K. Krouse, President & CEO of the Greater Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau, Nikki Gatch, CEO of the Southern California PGA, Mike Burrows, CEO of the San Bernardino International Airport, and Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce.

These distinguished figures shared their insights on the potential of the IESEC to stimulate growth, foster community engagement, and enhance the local economy through sports and entertainment.

IESEC is proud to acknowledge its sponsors, Bank of America and the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency, for their invaluable support. The Collaborative is a testament to the power of synergy, with agencies such as the Southern California PGA, NFL Alumni SoCal, NASCAR, GOCAL, San Bernardino Int’l Airport, Ontario Reign, Empire Strykers, Inland Empire 66ers, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Ontario Clippers, and Southern California’s Greater Ontario Sports & Entertainment Authority actively participating.

In true festive spirit, guests were treated to an evening of sumptuous food, refreshing drinks, and engaging golf play. The energy and enthusiasm echoed the IESEC’s vision of fostering a sense of community through sports and entertainment.

IESEC, spearheaded by the IERCC, is committed to promoting, supporting, and facilitating partnerships between local businesses and regional sports teams, and entertainment venues throughout the Inland Empire. The initiative aims to create memorable experiences while generating revenue, stimulating economic growth, and positively impacting the community.

“Our goal with IESEC is to build a stronger, more connected community united in its love of sports and entertainment,” said Edward Ornelas, Jr., President of the IERCC. “By bringing people together to celebrate the best that the Inland Empire offers, we are creating a platform for exciting new opportunities and experiences.”

IESEC, initiated by the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a consortium of experienced professionals dedicated to supporting sports and entertainment events in the Inland Empire region. Through partnerships with local businesses, community organizations, and government entities, IESEC serves as a central hub for promoting a wide variety of cultural and entertainment experiences. By encouraging community participation and economic growth, IESEC aims to build a stronger, more vibrant Inland Empire.

For more information about the IESEC and its ongoing projects, please visit our website at www.iechamber.org

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