Citizens Business Bank Arena

Ontario-based Citizens Business Bank announced this week they have bought the naming rights to an 11,000 seat arena planned for Ontario. As the largest locally-based financial institution, the marriage makes perfect sense.

2006 - Piemonte at The Ontario Center

Expected to open in late 2008, Citizens Arena is part of the city’s Piemonte at Ontario Center, a mixed-use project planned for the remaining land of what once was Ontario Motor Speedway. Located adjacent to I-10 and west of Milliken Avenue (and Ontario Mills), the area is currently a mixture of vacant land, office parks, retail and multi-family residential.

The arena will be operated by Los Angeles-based AEG, which also runs LA’s Staples Center as well as several arenas nationwide:

Under the current arrangement, the city will pay for the facility and continue to own it, while splitting profits with AEG. Previous estimates pegged the cost at $55 million, but city leaders expect it will be higher.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

2006 - Future Citizens Arena - Concours Street near Mercedes Lane

The naming rights announcement comes on the heels of Ontario rejecting all recent bids for different portions of the arena. The city insists the bidding setback will not keep the project from being built as previous setbacks had in the past.

Although there has been talk of such an arena in Ontario as far back as the late 1990s, the project itself has, quite frankly, remained relatively obscure. Even the city of Ontario itself has remained seemingly quiet on the project over the years, even going so far as to begin referring to it as a “community events center” (we suspect to possibly quell any notion of what some may conjure — via the use of the word “arena” — as being an expensive, unnecessary “white elephant”). Whatever the case, this week’s announcement affirms the project is moving closer to reality:

2006 - Aerial view (Google)

Construction has yet to start on the city-owned Citizens Business Bank Arena, but it is expected to have 11,000 seats and attract at least 150 events a year. Details of the 10-year, multi-million dollar naming-rights deal were not included in the Thursday announcement.

An agreement has been finalized to house a minor league hockey team that would be a feeder team to the Los Angeles Kings, city manager Greg Devereaux said. Arena football and a National Basketball Association development team are possibilities too, he said.

The Press-Enterprise

Finally, we hope the leadership role taken by Citizens spurs other locally-based businesses to step up to the plate with similar community-oriented projects (such as the various museums/arts facilities in downtown Riverside). Without a doubt, Inland Southern California’s business community needs to awaken from its 20-plus years of relative slumbering with regards to local philanthropic endeavors. What used to be the norm in places such as Riverside, Redlands and San Bernardino seems to have fallen to barely a trickle in recent memory.

For that matter, even the national business giants need to step up locally in this regards as well. As opposed to always giving Los Angeles the lion’s share of such local proceeds, it’s time to evenly distribute the wealth around the metropolitan area. Just as there’s more to metropolitan New York than NYC, so too is Southern California more than simply Los Angeles. And if you don’t believe us, take a gander at the latest Census metropolitan rankings wherein Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario comes in at #13*.



Sources: Ontario Daily Bulletin, The Press-Enterprise, *2005 CBSA Rankings

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