Photos by Andrei Ojeda and Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Toyota Arena 4000 East Ontario Center Ontario, CA 91764
Year Opened: 2008
Together We Reign
Affiliate of the NHL LA Kings, the Ontario Reign are an AHL hockey team playing in Ontario, CA. AHL hockey (American Hockey League) is kind of like AAA in baseball, the highest level before reaching the pro’s. The Reign play their home games at the sleek looking Toyota Arena (formerly known as Citizens Bank Arena).
An ECHL hockey team called the same name, Ontario Reign, played at the same arena until the 2015 minor league hockey shake-up, during which the LA Kings moved their AHL affiliate from Manchester, NH to Ontario and the ECHL Reign moved to Manchester with each keeping the former team’s name.
The Toyota Arena, operated by the city of Ontario, boasts being the largest and most modern arena in the Inland Empire region as well as hosting over 125 events each year. Other sports teams who call the Toyota Arena home are the Agua Caliente Clippers (G-League basketball) and the Ontario Fury (MASL soccer).
The Ontario Reign provide quite an entertaining evening of hockey.
Food & Beverage 4
Plenty of appetizing food is available for purchase at the Toyota Arena.
Dawg Gone (hot dogs, bratwurst $5.75 – $10.50), Urban City Taqueria (Mexican $7.75 – $10), The Pizza Joint (pizza and chicken wings), Fuel Filling Station (burgers, chicken tenders $10.50 – $11 served with fries), and Good Guy’s Sandwich Co (sandwiches, mac ‘n cheese $5.75 – $12.75) round out the permanent concession stands. Snacks are offered at all of these. Coca-Cola is the soft drink provider with choices running $5.75 for a regular and $7 for a souvenir cup/$2 refills.
Stand-alone food carts dot the concourse providing ice cream, nachos, and other additional snacks.
Two bars complement the concourse concessions offering a large variety of beers including local craft brews as well as wine and cocktails. Expect to pay $12 – $14 for beer and up to $14.50 for a premium cocktail.
Something I had not seen before, but I understand this is popping up more and more at sports venues, is a self-order concession stand kiosk, where fans can use digital display systems to order and pay for food thus reducing wait time at the traditional concession stands.
The Toyota Arena has quite a sleek looking exterior with tall glass atrium entrances with the rest of exterior dark grey on the bottom, beige on top. Palm trees line the front and east sides. No benches are provided outside to sit and wait for friends but the southside main entrance handicapped walkway has a ledge that can be used. As nice and bright and beautiful as the exterior is, the interior is unexpectedly dark; both the concourse and the seating area.
The dark concourse wraps around the entire seating area with views of the ice rink only available behind one of the goal nets as the rest of the entrances to the seating sections are draped with black curtains. I’ll guess this is done more for the concerts performed at the arena than for hockey games.
Fans enter the seating area mid level from the concourse and go down to seats (rows run A to O). Or climb some steps from the concourse for seats in second level (rows A up to N). Handrails are provided. Twenty-four suites are edged between the two layers of seating with the remaining twelve suites located above the second level near the northeast entrance corner. Extremely comfortable, wide, blue-cushioned seats with cup holders and minimal legroom furnish the hockey arena.
It’s chilly in the rink during the hockey game so be sure to bring extra layers. The music selection is upbeat but too loud to have a conversation with your neighbor.
No closed captioning is offered nor are the goal and assist scorers’ names displayed on the scoreboard. That information is only announced audibly. The scoreboard is center hung and is the perfect size for the rink. It provides a video of the game action, and the basic hockey information such as goals, time left, period, penalties, SOG, and time outs remaining.
Local restaurants and businesses sponsor seat or section promos and giveaways for which the fans go bonkers. When an opposing player gets called for a penalty, all fans shout “Get in the Shed” as he’s skating to the box – sponsored by Tuff Shed. Intermission entertainment includes local dance clubs and acts and youth hockey clubs. The organization has theme nights like a Wild West Night or Comic Hero Night. A newer feature of the Toyota Arena is the outdoor North Patio where pregame Beer fests and other merrymaking is offered on select nights.
It is an altogether fun time at a Reign game; one worth going to more than once a season.
The surrounding area resembles a business park with office buildings dotting the nearby streets. Currently under construction right across the street from the arena is an Element by Westin hotel. Other plans for the same nearby area are to build residential town homes and dwellings, restaurants, brew pubs and a shopping center.
A few nearby places to eat include Hamburger Mary’s (not recommended as service is slow and the food not worth the price), Benihana’s and El Torito. Ontario Mills, one of the top shopping malls in Southern California, is within a few minutes’ drive and provides a surplus of dining options ranging from coffee to fast food to casual sit down as well as an AMC move theater and 200+ shops.
An excellent hotel to stay when visiting the Toyota Arena is the LaQuinta Inn and Suites. It provides a free shuttle to/from the Ontario International Airport and even to the arena, which is a little over ½ mile away. It’s spotlessly clean and provides a good breakfast in the morning.
Lodging adjacent to Ontario Mills include all the usual chains like Hyatt, Hampton Inn, Country Inn and Suites, Ayres, Aloft. Most hotels provide a shuttle drop off to the arena.
Other places for entertainment can include the Whispering Lakes Golf Course for those golf enthusiasts, the Planes of Fame Air Museum for aviation history buffs, and the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is just about 15 minutes outside of town. One unique and unusual place to visit in Ontario is the Graber Olive House, home of the renowned Graber Olives. Guides tours particularly during harvest time Oct – Dec (also the beginning of the hockey season) are offered.
Reign fans are pretty hardy and passionate. They like to drink (though they’re not obnoxious) and they like to yell at the ref, especially when a call is made against a Reign player. They often become seat coaches as the third period rolls around. Lots of Reign and LA Kings jerseys are worn by fans. They are as interested in the action on the ice as they are in winning a Double-Double from In-N-Out. Have no fear, they are very respectful to other fans in the stands.
The AHL Ontario Reign have generally been in the top five of average attendance records since their 2015-2016 initiation averaging between 7,600 and 8,500 a game over the last few seasons. So, they certainly support their team. At the game we visited, most fans stayed all the way to the very end of an exciting overtime game.
The only disappointment I have is very few fans bring cow bells. Only a handful; it’s quite wimpy for such a strong crowd.
Getting to the Toyota Arena is relatively easy. It’s less than 2 miles from the I-10 and I-15 interchange and less than 3 miles from the Ontario International Airport. Parking is plentiful and costs $10 for a Reign game. Parking attendants look like they do a thorough job of directing traffic to and from spots.
Rideshare drop off and pick up is on the north side of the arena on Ontario Center [road].
OmniTrans offers bus service (Route 81) with the closest stop at Concours St and Mercedes Ln. However, it doesn’t look like service is offered late at night to get back after an evening game. Check OmniTrans for schedules and fares.
Gates open one hour prior to puck drop and entrance to the arena includes the typical security check. At this time, clear bag regulations are not enforced.
Traversing the concourse is easy with more traffic during intermissions and at the end of the game. Handicapped seating is available at the top of the first level of seating and above the second level. Restrooms are plenty clean and available throughout the venue. Lines will form between periods.
Return on Investment 3
An evening out at an Ontario Reign game can be expensive compared to many other AHL venues. Tickets range from $24 – $28 (upper corner defending end) to $80 – $102 (on the glass). These prices include the $3 service fee the Ontario Reign adds to each ticket.
Concession prices are on the major league level. $10 to park is high for an AHL arena, as is a $12 beer or $14.50 cocktail.
To combat some of these expenses, the Reign do offer value packs. Chick-fil-A 4 for $64 includes 4 tickets and a Chick-fil-A meal (Wednesdays and Sundays), $2 Bud Light Fridays, Family Fun Pack where tickets start at $27 and include a hot dog and a soda, and more. Check the Reign website for details on these offers.
All that said, it IS a fun, exciting time at a Reign game and the prices here are much lower than their parent club, the LA Kings, 45 miles to the west.
The Ontario Reign will host the 2019-2020 AHL All Star Game at the Toyota Arena, something that is always an enjoyable time.
Retaining the team name of Reign after moving from Manchester deserves an extra mention.
Several banners hang from the rafters, including ECHL Reign Division Championships, the Manchester Monarchs 2014-2015 Calder Cup Championship, and a banner for the 2015-2016 AHL Division Championship.
I like it here. It’s a good minor league hockey environment. One worth visiting again.