Luc Robitaille & Ontario Reign Executives Address the Business Community During Private Luncheon
By Diara Fowler, Guest Writer for Inland Empire Business Journal
As the city of Ontario made history with its first-ever AHL All-Star Classic presented by the Ontario International Airport — the future is nothing but bright for the league, it’s players, and the community altogether. With all the prospects joining the organization, it has made an opportunity for huge growth and development for the players interacting within the game on and off the ice. This milestone for the American Hockey League (AHL) would not have been possible without all of its help from the Ontario Reign And LA Kings organizations and its business personnel that keep the show running and thriving.
The consciousness of hockey here in Southern California is on the rise. Every day more and more individuals are getting more involved, showing interest in the All-American sport. Hockey originally started back in Montreal Canada back in 1917. During a private luncheon for members of the business community, we heard many enthusiastic comments and excitement surrounding milestone events. “First ever all-star weekend here on the West Coast. It is such an honor to host the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic — the economic impact this has on the local economy is felt strongly. Very proud to be partnered with the AHL and Ontario Reign on this first-ever event. This is a milestone for the Inland Empire Region”, said Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce President — Edward Ornelas.
“Our main thing before growing the brand is growing the game of hockey. Ultimately my job is to make the sport of hockey more popular. The game of hockey is growing fast here within Southern California especially with the LA Kings and Ontario Reign pushing a bunch of our youth programs”, said Ontario Reign Business Development Executive — Andreas Torres.
NHL hall of fame player Luc Robitaille was also in attendance for the weekends exciting moment in history. The passion these kids have and overall youth is the future of the Ontario Reign and the LA King’s. “when we talk about what has Ontario done for the organization well, 3 years ago we had around 2-3 different prospects interested in joining our team, This year nine of our kids are playing within the world junior championship league which Intel’s some of the best players before 20 years of age” referenced Robitaille.
Just five years ago the American Hockey League president David Andrews made the decision to move existing teams from the East Coast to the West Coast, with that being said, California is now home to five professional hockey teams. The American Hockey League acknowledges the Bakersfield Condors, Ontario Reign, Stockton heat, San Jose Barracuda, and new expansion team in Palm Springs.
“I think the decision made to bring more teams down here to the West Coast helps the pacific region teams as they have a better feel and better draw to pick from and now players are closer to areas the teams are in. This concept makes hockey more National vs. just an East Coast sport”, said Business Development Manager at Securitas Security Christopher Blair.
“The American Hockey League is a developmental league, and the LA Kings have done a good job at installing winning as part of the developmental process. They want to teach players to win at this level and in a few years they’ll be ready for the NHL”, said Ontario Reign play-by-play broadcaster Cameron Close.
As the process is more than just hockey but building character along with the ways of positive influence and impact. “We don’t just teach our guys to be great hockey players, but at the same time, we want them to be good people. We know if you want to have a great organization you have to do things right on and off the ice, you have to be apart of the community. To be successful in the sports industry you must be a good teammate you cannot be an individual”, said Luc Robitaille.
Toyota Arena is home to the Ontario Reign and 2020’s AHL All-Star Classic. The games will take place in one of the best arenas in the country. “Back in 2016, the goal was to do a brand and name change, along with needing to improve food and beverages and guest experience here at the Toyota Arena.” So what are these improvements representing for the city of Ontario “the Reign has brought in over 1.2 million people through the door; food and beverage jumped from two million in revenue to eight million in revenue. We have more than 300 event dates on calendar here at our arena varying from sports to concerts — that would be impossible without partnerships and community involvement, along with our tentative partners which is a prime example of what we have here with the Ontario Reign”, said Michael Krouse, President & CEO of the Ontario Convention & Visitors Bureau.