Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Toyota Arena 4000 East Ontario Center Ontario, CA 91764
Year Opened: 2008 Capacity: 9,736
AC Clippers We Are IE
The Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario are one of the newer teams in the G League beginning operation in 2017. They are affiliates of the Los Angeles Clippers who are just 45 miles west of Ontario. The G League (Gatorade League) is the developmental basketball league (minor league) of the NBA.
The Agua Caliente Clippers play their home games at the impressive looking Toyota Arena (formerly known as Citizens Bank Arena). 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 Ontario Reign (AHL – American Hockey League) and the Ontario Fury (MASL soccer).
The team name comes from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognized tribe with resorts and casinos in Palm Springs who are a significant sponsor of the Clippers.
Note: In July 2022, the team name changed from Agua Caliente Clippers to Ontario Clippers.
Food & Beverage 3
One main concession stand and a few stand-alone food carts are open for Agua Caliente games.
Dawg Gone, the major stand just inside the main entrance offers a variety of hot dogs, bratwurst, sausage, and chicken tenders $5.75 – $10.50 Veggie trays and fresh fruit cups cost $5.75. Snacks such as popcorn, nachos, pretzels, peanuts, candy, cotton candy run $5 – $8.75 (the highest is for bottomless popcorn). Coca-Cola is the soft drink provider with choices running $5.75 for a regular and $7 for a souvenir cup/$2 refills.
A few stand-alone food carts dot the east end of the concourse providing ice cream, nachos, and other additional snacks.
Just one full bar complements 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.
The self-order kiosk is not in operation during an Agua Caliente game as the crowd is much smaller and not all the concession stands are open. During a Clippers game, concessions are only open on the east side
A very small merchandise area sells Agua Caliente Clippers merchandise.
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.
The concourse wraps around the entire seating area, however, the west end of the concourse and seating area is not used and is a ghost town during an Agua Caliente game.
Fans enter the seating area midlevel and go down to seats (rows run A – N). Handrails are provided. Most of the upper level seating is curtained off with only the sections facing center court open. Twenty-four suites are edged between the two layers of seating. No fans occupied any of them during this review’s match up. Extremely comfortable, wide, blue-cushioned seats with cup holders and minimal legroom furnish the arena. Two rows of floor seats round three sides of the basketball court.
The temperature is comfortable; depending on your heat/cold tolerance – a long sleeve t-shirt may be all that is needed. The music selection is not too loud and is played throughout most of the game.
Several promotions and giveaways are offered at an Agua Caliente game. T-shirt tosses, shoot a basket for money during one of the breaks, an autograph session at the end of the game, different dance studios entertaining the fans at half time are just some of the treats provided to the fans.
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.
The Agua Caliente Clippers draw very few fans. Those that do attend, understand and appreciate the game on the court. It would be nice to see more fans at the arena for basketball especially since the parent team is so close.
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 Agua Caliente Clippers game is an affordable sports choice for fans in the Inland Empire region. Tickets range from $12 (end seat) – $100 (floor seats) plus an additional $4 service fee.
Concession prices are on the major league level. $10 to park is high for G-League, as is a $12 beer or $14.50 cocktail.
To combat some of these expenses, the Clippers do offer value packs: Chick-fil-A 4 for $44 includes 4 tickets and Chick-fil-A meal vouchers on select dates, and $5 Bud Light Thursdays. The organization has giveaways throughout the season and many theme games.
Since the Clippers in no way sellout, get the end seats and then move over after the first quarter.
The half time entertainment and theme games are quite enjoyable. The Toyota Arena is an attractive looking building and it does provide comfortable seats for watching basketball games.
Attending an Agua Caliente basketball game is a stark difference than attending a Reign game at the same arena. Hopefully, as the G-League and minor league basketball gets more popular, more fans will come out the Toyota Arena to watch the Clippers.