The Berks County Convention Center Authority is once again an owner of the ECHL’s Reading Royals, an affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers and the American Hockey League’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The authority, which runs the Santander Arena where the team plays, purchased the assets of the Royals from team owner Jack Gulati.
Mike Ehlerman, chairman of the authority, said Gulati had expressed interest in selling the team. And while, Gulati had previously stated his commitment to keeping the hockey team in Reading, the authority was concerned that offers could come in that could eventually move the team away.
“I could not run the risk of the team going somewhere else,” he said. “We knew we had to do something. It’s called self-preservation.”
He called the team a very important resource for the arena and the community.
“The Royals organization is a vital economic component to the interests of Reading, Berks County and our arena,” added Michael J. Gombar Jr., vice chairman of the BCCCA. “Thus, it is imperative that BCCCA takes this step as a sign of its commitment to maintaining a long-term relationship with this team and the community.”
The authority had previously been an owner of the team between 2011 and 2014, before Gulati purchased it.
The authority said about 20 percent of the attendance for the arena and the performing arts center it operates along with SMG Management comes from Royals games. The two venues had more than 435,000 visitors last year.
Gombar said the goals BCCCA has for the team include building upon the existing loyal fan base and developing new relationships to ensure the stability of the Reading Royals organization for years to come.
The purchase is contingent upon the approval by the ECHL’s board of governors. With that approval Ehlerman said the actual purchase should be made at the end of June, since the team is currently in the middle of a season.
Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.