About 30 Berks County leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Sovereign Center in Reading to welcome the ownership group of the new Pennsylvania Roar indoor soccer team to town.
Glen Goldstein, team co-owner and CEO, said that the Pennsylvania Roar was named to include residents of the entire state, but that its heart is at home in Berks County.
"We're very much Reading's team," Goldstein said.
There likely will be a mascot-naming contest in the near future, but most of the business talk was about upcoming jobs available, attracting and developing local talent and the future economic impact to the area.
In October, the 7,083-seat center will be renamed the Santander Arena, and there are immediate openings for jobs to help with events and with the team itself.
"We are looking to fill our front office staff as soon as we can – general manager, sales, marketing," co-owner Andrew Haines said.
The search for players, coaches and support staff already is underway.
"We will acquire local talent where we can and some national talent – all with the idea of making the team extremely competitive," Goldstein said.
According to Berks County Convention Center Authority Chairman P. Michael Ehlerman, the facility was opened about 12 years ago with the major goal of attracting thousands of people to Downtown Reading.
Between the Sovereign Center and Sovereign Performing Arts Center, both to be renamed with the Santander logo in October, there are about 225 events each year that include hockey games, concerts, a symphony, Disney on Ice, rodeos, monster truck show and religious events.
"Today we have about half-a-million people coming to Downtown Reading for performances," Ehlerman said. "The Pennsylvania Roar will continue with this tradition of attracting thousands of people to Downtown Reading, both local and regional, to further increase the number of people attending our events."
Officials are awaiting pending projects such as plans for a Doubletree hotel and an application for a Main Street program designation for special funding and attention along the Penn Street corridor, the timing of which likely would help welcome an influx of visitors to a revitalized downtown.
"The hotel looks like it's going to take place across the street, so this will add to the corridor," Reading Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said. "It should help with the local economy by putting a lot of emphasis on our downtown."
New projects, structures and ventures could help by attracting employees with skills to the city, something area businesses owners crave.
"From an economic development perspective, there is nothing more important to make us more vibrant and more competitive than having talent," said Ellen Horan, president and CEO of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry. "That's what our employers say, having the workforce and the talent you need is the single most key element to their success."
Other businesses are focusing on the advertising opportunities associated with a professional sports team.
"Since Sunday, we've had four or five companies reach out to us on how they can be involved with the team," Goldstein said. "The [league] requires that each one of our games be fed nationally – a live feed. So businesses cannot only get local exposure, but also national exposure."
For prospective fans, individual tickets start at $11 and season ticket packages for the 10 regular-season home games run from $119 to $340.
For more information, visit the Roar website.