The Ontario Reign are bound to get a little bit of extra publicity this fall when the Kings and Ducks play a pre-season game against each other in the Inland Empire for the first time. The two teams have squared off over 100 times in LA and OC, but never at AEG’s ‘other’ local arena.
Until then, the biggest news coming from Citizen’s Business Bank Arena may be what was released today – Reign President Justin Kemp has been named the ECHL’s Executive of the Year. And what a turnaround that marks for Kemp from just twelve months ago.
Last summer, Kemp was on MayorsManor and talked openly about many of his frustrations, including the fact the Kings hadn’t been sending him as many prospects as most of the other ECHL teams were getting from their NHL affiliates, having to fire his coach after not making the playoffs for the second year in a row and essentially gutting the entire Ontario roster (bringing back just a handful of players from the 2010-11 season).
Kemp began his sports management career as a corporate account executive with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes and later worked for the Anaheim Ducks, selling corporate partnerships. He also served as the vice president of business development for the Long Beach Ice Dogs, prior to Ontario joining the ECHL in 2008.
The Reign are coming off a season in which they won the Pacific Division with a 43-21-8 record for 94 points, a 34-point improvement over 2010-11. Under new head coach Jason Christie and assistant coach Mark Hardy (both hired by Kemp), the team returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Through it all, their fan support has remained strong, as Ontario led the ECHL in attendance for the third consecutive season, with an average of 6,309 fans per game. The Reign also saw large increases in both corporate revenue and non-premium ticket revenue.
In response to the ECHL Board of Governors selecting Kemp as the 2011-12 recipient of the ECHL Executive of the Year award, he said – “It’s truly an honor to receive this award, and as I’ve always said it is a true team effort here in Ontario and it is the accomplishments of so many that make this possible. I have the privilege of coming to work every day with outstanding people and we collectively make each other better. I want to sincerely thank the board for recognizing these efforts as well as our staff for their commitment to hard work and teamwork.”
In addition to the team’s efforts on the ice, Kemp has worked tirelessly to make the Reign a true partner in the community. The Hope Reigns Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reign organization, raised over $480,000 for local causes during the 2011-12 season. In addition, players and staff donated over 1,000 hours to groups throughout the area. Kemp also serves on the Executive Board for the local Chamber of Commerce.
Congratulations to Justin Kemp on a well deserved honor.
Interview with Reign President Justin Kemp – talks background, Coyotes situation and what’s needed from Ontario