Why Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena changed management

By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

ONTARIO >> Now that management of the city-owned Citizens Business Bank Arena has changed hands, the question remains, why was the contract cut short?

Ontario officials say they are excited about the new direction SMG plans to take with event bookings. The company takes the helm after the city dismissed AEG two years before its contract was up.

AEG, which also Ontario Reign hockey team, indicated it will focus on the American Hockey League team and that the Reign would stay in Ontario. A request for comment from AEG spokesman Michael Roth was not immediately returned.

The city released a statement last month that the decision was arrived upon mutually, with no dispute about whether AEG was living up to the contract

“It was by mutual agreement by the parties that AEG was going to focus on the success of the Ontario Reign hockey team,” City Manager Al Boling said Thursday, mimicking a statement released last month.

But did AEG meet its contractual obligations?

The $150 million arena opened Oct. 24, 2008, and seats 11,000 at capacity. AEG’s contract required 120 ticketed events — whether musical, sports or Disney on Ice in nature — per year, but a tally of records this publication attained shows the management company did not achieve that goal every year.

The first full and complete operating year at the arena, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, saw a total of 90 events. AEG didn’t hit the mark until it booked 121 ticketed events in fiscal year 2013-14.

“Those first years were about getting the facility up and operating and the numbers continued to grow,” Boling said.

At the groundbreaking in 2007, AEG officials dreamed big. They envisioned 30 concerts a year.

At first, the arena seemed to attract some big names. Carrie Underwood was among the first to perform there, in 2008. Neil Diamond followed the next year. Elton John came in 2010. So did Justin Bieber. Cher is arguably the last big name to appear, and that was in 2014.

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