SBJ/November 19 - 25, 2001/New Arenas

Sovereign Center

Sovereign Center

City: Reading, Pa.

Tenant: East Coast Hockey League's Reading Royals

Architects: STV Architects, PBK Architects Inc.

Owner/operator: Berks County Convention Center Authority/SMG

No. of seats: 7,200 (hockey)

No. of suites (annual cost): 20 ($34,000 to $37,000)

No. of club seats (annual cost): 701 ($799)

Cost: $42.5 million (arena only)

Funding: $18.5 million from a state redevelopment assistance grant; $10 million from the Berks County Convention Center Authority; $4.5 million from a community development bloc grant from the city; $600,000 land donation; remaining from a new 2 percent county hotel tax; $250,000 from SMG; $13.5 million interest-free loan from Sovereign Bancorp. Sovereign Bancorp signed a five-year, $2.25 million naming-rights deal in July 1999. The financing includes approximately $7 million for renovation of the adjacent performing arts center.

General contractor/construction manager: Turner Construction (both)

Concessionaire: SMG

Pouring rights: Pepsi

When the first plans were drawn up for the arena 59 years ago, Sovereign Bancorp did not exist. Neither did the East Coast Hockey League or the Los Angeles Kings, whose farm club is the anchor tenant at the building. Soon after construction of the arena began in spring 1999, the bank secured the naming rights to both the arena and the adjacent performing arts center. With 340,000 residents in the county, Reading is at the geographic center of a population base of more than 8 million people, with Philadelphia, Allentown and Harrisburg, Pa., Trenton, N.J., and Wilmington, Del., all within an hour's drive. The arena reserved five of its 20 suites to be booked on a nightly basis. Nearly all the other 15 are sold for full three-year terms. All the club seats are sold, most for full three-year deals. The premium seats sold out within four days of becoming available. Coors/All-Star Distributing, Pepsi, Lifestyle Limousines, Lincoln Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Kansas City Steakhouse, Berks Hot Dogs, John Woodward's Third and Spruce Cafe each paid $20,000 to $70,000 a year for top-level exclusive sponsorships, and 80 percent of sign space is sold.

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