Basic InformationTeam: Reading Royals (ECHL)
Game: 11/28/14 Royals vs Greenville Road Warriors
Team Website: www.royalshockey.com
Ticket Information: (610) 898-PUCK or www.royalshockey.com
Visitors Information: (610) 375-4085 or www.gogreaterreading.com
Online Broadcasts: www.sportsradioberks.com
Local Newspaper: Reading Eagle www.readingeagle.com
Team History: The direct descendant of the legendary Columbus (OH) Chill, the Royals dropped their first puck in Berks County in the winter of 2001. For their first eight seasons, the Royals were affiliated with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, but prior to the 2009-10 season, the club signed an agreement to join the farm system of the nearby Philadelphia Flyers. The affiliation paid dividends, as in 2013, the team won it's first Kelly Cup, symbolizing the championship of the ECHL. Probably the best known "graduate" of Reading is goaltender Johnathan Quick, who backstopped the Kings to the 2014 Stanley Cup championship.
Affiliation: The Royals are affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, their top farm club.
Seating Capacity: Santander Arena has a seating capacity of 7,083 for ice hockey.
Other Tenants: Previously, Santander Arena has hosted professional indoor soccer, minor league basketball, and indoor football. However, at this time, the Royals are the only professional sports tenant.
Getting There: From the Pennsylvania Turnpike, take exit 286 (US 222). Continue on 222 North to Reading. Merge on to 422 East towards Pottstown. Take the Penn Street exit, the second exit after the North Wyomissing Blvd. exit. The Santander Arena is located at 7th and Penn Streets. Parking garages are available on Franklin or Court Street.
How About That Name (And Some History): Opened in September 2001, the Santander (pronounced Sahn-tahn-dehr) Arena is located in downtown Reading on the site of the old Astor Theater. The building was originally known as the Sovereign Center, but was changed when the Spanish-based Santander Bank purchased the naming rights to the building. The Santander Performing Arts Center is also part of the arena complex.
On The Town: The seat of Berks County, Reading is located in south east Pennsylvania, and has a population of 87,893, making it the fifth largest city in the Keystone State. It is located approximately 70 miles from Harrisburg to the west and Philadelphia to the east.
The city was first established in 1748, when the Richard and Thomas Penn, the sons of state founder William Penn, mapped the area. The town was named Reading after the town of Reading in England. Many of the first settlers were originally from Germany who bought tracts of land from the Penn family. The first Amish settlement in the New World was built in the greater Reading area.
The Reading area became known as an iron and manufacturing center. During the Revolutionary War, Reading kept Washington’s troops supplied with rifles, cannon, and ammunition which helped him defeat the British.
With its central location, Reading became a transportation hub during the nineteenth century. The famous Reading Railroad was incorporated in 1833.
Famous natives of Reading include Pulitzer Prize winning writer John Updike, golfer Betsy King, Brooklyn Dodger legend Carl Furillo, and actor Michael Constantine.
Major Airport: Reading is served by Reading Regional Airport, but its proximity to Harrisburg and Philadelphia makes flying into those cities a viable alternative.
What To Do Before The Game: For me, this was an “in and outer”, so if you’re in the town for an extended period of time, you might want to contact the visitors bureau for more information.
Where To Eat Before The Game: With the arena being in downtown Reading, there are several restaurants within a walk. However, after the dark, the downtown area might be considered a bit “dicey”
Where To Stay: I stayed in Harrisburg on this trip, so I can’t report on lodgings in the area, but most major chains are serviced in the Reading area.
Ticket Prices: Royals tickets are priced as follows: $28.00 (glass), $23.00 (purple), $20.50 (red), $17.50 (green), and $12.00 (silver).
Getting In: The main entrance is on the Penn St side of the building, which brings you into the area which holds the ticket sales windows. This area isn’t particularly large, so I would recommend getting there fairly early to avoid waiting on the street. Once the building opens, there is a staircase which takes you up to the main concourse.
The Good Seats: With a capacity of just over seven thousand, virtually all the seats in the Santander Arena are close to the action and give a good, unobstructed view. The seats are all of the plastic, “flip-up” style.
Parking: There is a large covered garage directly behind the arena. It was just a five minute walk from the front entrance, and for $5.00, it was a good deal.
Arena Food: This is where the home of the Royals really shined for me. Not only were there a significant amount of different concession choices, the pricing wasn’t totally outlandish.
I stopped at an Italian themed stand, and ordered a meatball sandwich. It was not quite as big as your garden-variety foot-long Subway sandwich, but it was more than sufficient. It had a good amount of meatballs, sauce, and cheese, and combined with a bag of potato chips for $7.00, it was (to my wallet), a bargain. I added a large Diet Coke (which for eight dollars might seem to be high, but it came with a free refill), so I was well fed for $15.00.
In addition to the standard arena fare, there were stands selling fresh soup, kettle corn, Carvel ice cream, Mexican food, gourmet coffee, sticky buns, and crab fries made by Chickie and Pete’s, a famous Philadelphia restaurant.
Here is a selection of concession prices at the Santander Arena:
Hot Dog: $8.00 (combo meal) Nachos: $5.00 Draft Beer: $6.00 Pretzel: $4.00 Large 0oda: $8.00 (one refill) French Fries: $6.00 Personal Pizza: $7.00
ATM: There is a Santander Bank ATM near the main entrance.
Souvenirs: There are two “Fan-Attic” shops in the main concourse with an average sized line of merchandise, mostly shirts and caps.
Restrooms: There are matching sets of men’s and women’s rooms along the “long” sides of the building. The facilities appeared to be of the correct size and were clean, operable, and well stocked.
Mascot: “Slapshot” and “Tiara”, matching male and female lions
Dance Team: The Royal Ladies
Program: The team provides a free roster card with updated statistics.
Scoreboard/Arena Voice: The Santander Bank Arena has a large, center hanging scoreboard which features full video capability. It got a decent amount of use, but wasn’t “overdone”. There is a smaller scoreboard behind one of the goals which is used mostly for advertisements and promotional information.
The arena has very good acoustics, and the PA announcer has a good, solid delivery. The music is also pretty good and is played at a decent volume.
Stadium Staff: Most of the people seemed fairly helpful, but were not overly so. One usher reminded me rather sternly to “not shoot any video” when she saw my camera.
Atmosphere: Fairly good. It was a hockey-smart crowd, and despite the attendance of about three thousand, they knew when to cheer and when to heckle.
Overall Rating: I was told by several friends who visited the arena during the reign of the ill-fated Pennsylvania Roar soccer team that the Santander Arena was a jewel. I have to agree. It had everything that a small arena needs and more, and is something for the citizens of Reading to be proud of.