Santander Arena – Reading Royals
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The Royal Treatment
Reading, Pennsylvania is the county seat of Berks County and has a population of 87,893. That makes it the fifth-largest city in the state. According to the 2010 census, Reading has the highest share of citizens living in poverty in the nation. Unfortunately the city is experiencing hard times, but sporting events like the Reading Royals and the nearby Reading Fightin’ Phils games at FirstEnergy Stadium make the city a destination for sports fans.
The area was the home of author John Updike and LPGA golfer Betsy King. And nearby Wyomissing was the childhood home of Taylor Swift before her move to Nashville, Tennessee and major stardom.
At one time, outlets were a major tourist industry in the area. The VF Outlets in West Reading still gets a decent bit of tourism traffic.
The Reading Royals started in 2001 after the dormant Columbus Chill franchise moved in after being replaced by the Blue Jackets in the Ohio capital city. The Royals won their first Kelly Cup Championship in 2013.
The team is currently affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers after previous affiliations with the Kings, Bruins, Capitals and Maple Leafs (partial affiliation).
The Santander Arena sits on the site of the historic Astor Theater. The art deco-style theater was built in 1928. The 2,478-seat venue operated until 1975, then was demolished in 1998 to clear space for the Sovereign Center arena . It sat vacant for over two decades and was in no shape for repair.
Santander Arena was formerly known as the Sovereign Center. The Pennsylvania Roar (MISL), Reading Rockets (PLL), Reading Express (IFL) and Reading Railers have called the arena home. The ASI Panthers indoor football team currently play in the arena. Interestingly enough was the time that the New York Majesty of the Lingerie Football League used the Santander Arena as their home venue. One has to wonder why the team name was used.
Besides the 7,083 seats, the arena has 701 club seats and 20 luxury suites.
Food & Beverage 5
The Santander Arena has a pretty amazing variety of food. Besides the permanent food stands, there’s a dizzying array of temporary stands crowding the concourse. Penn State Stickies, Cabana Stand, Royal Ice, Coffee Stand and Pauline’s Soups add to the variety.
Soda is generally $3 and $4 around the arena. Beer varieties and prices are all over the map.
A good value at the general food stands is the cheeseburger basket at $8.50. I would also suggest checking out the Xfinity Sky Lounge on the top level and seeing what their daily specials are. For around $10, you can usually find a good food deal that accompanies a good view of the game.
A couple of other favorites are the Philly pretzel twists ($4) and the local brewery outpost of Stoudts Pub.
You will not likely go hungry at a Royals game. And with the low price points, your wallet will enjoy the effect.
There is one level of dark blue seats that surrounds the rink. They are nicely sloped and give everyone a great view of the action on the ice.
A new scoreboard sits over the ice and offers all the entertainment value as seen at larger venues. It is state-of-the-art and enhances the game.
There is an older video board on the north end wall that is used for advertising and game info, but the video is a lower quality than that of the main board.
The arena is designed with a fairly low roofline. It makes the arena a bit dark, which actually draws the eye even more towards the on-ice action. The whole venue smacks of an older design, which is not a negative. Anytime you can offer a classic game experience, while still offering modern amenities, that is a good thing.
Frankly, the downtown neighborhood is not the greatest. Jimmy Kramer’s Peanut Bar and the Ugly Oyster Bar are a couple of great places within walking distance. It is also fun to stay at the historic Abraham Lincoln Hotel, which is where famous band leader John Philip Sousa died..
The Reading Pagoda is the city’s signature attraction. Located on Mount Penn, just five minutes east of downtown, the Pagoda is a landmark building worth checking out.
Wander over to West Reading and check out the Chatty Monks Brewing Company (610 Penn Ave, West Reading, PA). They offer some great local brews and great food options in a small friendly environment. It is just down the street from the VF Outlet Mall.
The Reading fans seem very knowledgeable, and in typical Eastern Pennsylvania style, can be quite adamant in their support. The only real issue is that the economy has not been kind to the area, and sometimes the fans don’t quite fill the arena to capacity for all games.
Reading is located near I-78, I-176 and I-76. Other major routes are Route 61 or US-222. With the Santander Arena located downtown, you will have to navigate some typical urban streets, many that are one-way in direction, to get to the arena.
Parking in nearby lots and garages is $5. I would not suggest on-street parking, as the neighborhood is not always the best.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are a pretty good price, and can vary from $12 to $28, depending on seating location. Be on the lookout for package deals, where a family of four can attend, get food and a drink for a good value of $56.
Go in via the main entrance off of Penn Avenue and check out the Astor Theater chandelier and ornate gates, which were installed to sense a bit of history.
The hat trick case on the concourse displays the large amount of hats that have been thrown onto the ice surface during those scoring opportunities.
Two other great informational walls are in display. The first is a 10-year history wall depicting the many great events of the arena’s brief history. And the second is the Reading Hall of Fame display. Both are worth checking out.
Hockey does well in the towns of Pennsylvania. Reading is no exception, as Santander Arena and the Reading Royals offer a great place to watch a game, with many food options, at a great value.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Reading
2801 Papermill Road
Reading, PA 19610
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