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Saving Reading

Apr 06, 2017 • by Lin Seyler, volunteer contributor
Reading Royals

According to me, every day that I get up is a good day – and on the great days they play hockey.

But aside from loving hockey, why do I support the Reading Royals and want them to succeed? Well, I’m a Berks native, born and bred. So for good or bad Reading is my city, my home town. I’ve seen it change significantly in my lifetime. Population, demographics and culture have all gone through big modifications. But Penn Street, City Park the Castle on the Hill and Municipal Stadium are still in the same places. As I said, good or bad, I just want Reading, my home town to be a success.

For Reading to prosper, it is essential for downtown Reading to be successful. Oh, I know it will never be the commercial hub it was in my youth. Still, in present day, during the week from 9 to 5 there’s plenty of activity around Fifth and Penn. The government offices create a lot of activity, both for themselves and supported stores and restaurants. For the eventual success of Reading, though, there has to be night time and weekend activity. Gone are the days of the big department stores, shoe stores, music stores, and other after-hours commercial enterprises. The half dozen or so movie theaters that used to be up and down Penn have mostly migrated to the suburban mall cineplexes.

Some entertainment is still available at the IMAX complex at 2nd and Washington or at the Goggle Works; even the shows at the Santander Performing Arts Center.

Then we have the Santander Arena. Although the occasional sold out concert or the booking by the Jehovah’s Witnesses provides a nice boost to the revenue plan of the arena, it’s bread and butter is the home game schedule of the reading Royals. Their schedule provides thirty six regular season games and possible home playoff games. I don’t know for sure, but I must believe that’s more than all the other events held in the arena combined.

If the Royals succeed, Santander Arena succeeds, the surrounding downtown businesses and Penn Street succeeds and Reading succeeds.

For the past nine seasons a big part of the success of the Royals has been Coach Larry Courville. His ability to gather talent to the roster, even with the injuries, call-ups, players leaving for Europe has been a big part of the Royals success. Winning hockey teams always garner more support than teams that struggle for standing points. The Royals have announced that Coach Courville will not be back next season. It truly is time for Larry to be doing other things; we wish him well in his future roles. But now it is incumbent of Royals ownership and management to replace him with a new winning coach.

The on ice performance is just one aspect of the success of the team. The in arena customer support, be it vendors, ushers, security or the Royals front office staff – have to make fans happy with the product. Even the parking makes a difference to the fans.

All these things have become even more complicated with the departure of Drew Bell and Larry Courville. So many unknowns are around right now. Unanswered questions abound.

Hopefully, we’ll still be playing hockey.

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