Oct 22, 2018
How Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena will celebrate its 10th anniversary
Oct. 24, 2008 was the day L.A. came to the city of Ontario.
That was when Citizens Business Bank Arena opened its doors to the public. The Los Angeles Lakers traveled east for the occasion. Kobe Bryant came off the injured list to help beat the Oklahoma Thunder in a nationally televised exhibition game.
To then city manager Greg Devereaux, the opening of the $150 million, 11,000-seat venue was a step up for the entire Inland Empire.
It brought “a certain level of entertainment and class that we didn’t have, our own sports teams,” he said in a phone interview. “People don’t think about this often. We’re a large enough metropolitan area … if we were out by ourselves anywhere else in the country and had our own media market, we’d have a full slate of professional teams.”
Flash forward 10 years, and Citizens Business Bank Arena has carved out a market for itself as the home of minor league sports and major league rockers.
It begins its second decade Wednesday, Oct. 24, with a free open house where visitors will get to see what the facility has to offer.
Adam Millar, General Manager of Citizens Business Bank Arena, talks about the new outdoor area that will be used during events in Ontario on Monday, October 15, 2018. Citizens Business Bank Arena marks its 10th anniversary on Oct. 24. (Photo by Stan Lim, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)
Three home teams: the Ontario Reign, an affiliate with Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team; the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, an affiliate with the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team; and the Ontario Fury, an indoor soccer team.
Live entertainment: Rod Stewart plays the arena Oct. 28, followed by Marco Antonio Solis on Nov. 2. Further out are two frequent visitors, Trans-Siberian orchestra with its holiday show on Dec. 1, and Disney on Ice, Dec. 26-30.
Food: The arena has refreshed its concessions with new exteriors and new menus. People who pick up taste cards at the main entrance can get free samples. There will also be desserts in two luxury suites on display.
Renovation: The arena has enclosed a walkway on the north side of the building, turning it into a patio where people can go before events and during intermission. The patio overlooks a four-story hotel called Element under construction beside the arena.
Free stuff: There will be some swag, gift bags for the first 100 people through the doors, ticket giveaways, and complimentary photos displayed on the scoreboard.
This selfie opportunity will give locals the chance to say goodbye to the scoreboard, which was purchased “slightly used” and was hanging over that first Lakers game.
A newer, sharper scoreboard is coming in by the end of the year, said general manager Adam Millar on a tour of the building. It will not only brighten up games, but the many indoor graduation ceremonies the arena houses.
“We are the graduation capital of this area,” he said.
The arena was built with the expectation that it would house at least 150 events a year. In its first 12 months, it sold 440,000 tickets for 98 events. The highest attendance, more than 10,000 people, was for Metallica on Dec. 12, 2008.
Now, the arena is up to “a couple hundred” events after a 2016 change in management from AEG to SMG and a return to Ticketmaster for sales, according to Millar.
Under SMG, the arena presented concerts such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and signed the Clippers development team.
“When SMG took over the venue two years ago, the goals were improve the content, which we’ve crushed, improve the food and beverage, which we’ve crushed, and improve the guest experience, which we’ve crushed.”
The arena was in the works for a dozen years before it opened. The city built it without debt, in part by selling land near Ontario International Airport. Devereaux believes city leaders should be commended for the fiscal restraint, which paid off when the arena was constructed and opened in the depths of the 2007-2008 recession.
“The market changed about the time the area was being built,” he said. “So the early expectations weren’t met. But as the years have gone on and management changes took place, they’ve adjusted to the market. And now I think it’s certainly meeting if not exceeding expectations.”
There’s room in the Inland Empire for more venues like Citizens Business Bank Arena, Devereaux said, as well as the dream of big league sports.
“At some point we really should have our own pro teams. This is a big enough market. … I think at some point that will be the next step.”
Citizens Business Bank Arena
What: 10th anniversary open house
When: 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24
Where: 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario
Admission: No tickets required, free parking