Sovereign Center To Receive Larger Share Of Parking Funds

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sovereign Center will get an extra $45,000 a year, thanks to the Reading Parking Authority’s agreement Wednesday to change the split of parking revenue coming from civic center events.

Since 2006, the authority has taken 75 percent of the revenue after expenses, giving the civic center 25 percent.

However, P. Michael Ehlerman, chairman of the Berks County Convention Center Authority that oversees the civic center, has asked that the parking board go back to the original split – the two sides each get 50 percent of the revenue after expenses.

The request came during a meeting of the authorities requested by Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer, said parking board member Lawrence P. Murin, who also is a special assistant to Spencer.

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Red Ink Intensifies For 2 Reading Civic Centers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The numbers aren’t final, but Reading’s two civic center venues likely will take another operating loss of about $800,000, as paid attendance continues to dwindle.

The Berks County Convention Center Authority said Thursday that the anticipated loss from the season that ended June 30 is similar to the $786,000 loss posted the prior season.

“The unaudited numbers are no better this year than last year,” Treasurer Carl D. Herbein said.

Paid attendance has fallen 16 percent over the past five years for the Sovereign Center arena and Sovereign Performing Arts Center theater, said Chairman P. Michael Ehlerman.

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Berks Commissioners Expand Hotel Tax To Include Entire County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All hotels and motels in Berks County must begin collecting a 5 percent room tax starting Oct. 1.

The county commissioners in a 2-1 vote Thursday extended the tax to facilities beyond the 15-mile radius of the Sovereign Center established when the tax went into effect March 1, 1997.

The tax currently produces about $1.7 million annually, with 80 percent going to the Berks County Convention Center Authority to repay money borrowed to build the center and 20 percent going to the Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The expansion is expected to bring in an additional $310,000 in 2014.

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Reading Royals Crush Stockton, Win First Kelly Cup

Stockton, CAYannick Tifu lifted the Kelly Cup high above his head, looked toward a contingent of Reading Royals fans who were gathered behind their team’s bench and let out a loud, proud scream.

The work was done, the title was secured and it was time to party.

The Royals claimed their first ECHL Kelly Cup championship on Saturday with a dominating 6-0 win against the Thunder in front of a crowd of 4,662 at Stockton Arena.

The Royals took control of the game with a four-goal second period and another sterling performance by goaltender Riley Gill, who earned the finals most valuable player award.

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Agency Letter To Sovereign Center Says Water Could Be Shut Off

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We think Mr. Miller needs some customer service training if he thinks the wording of the letter sent by his agency isn’t threatening.  Just sayin…

The Reading Area Water Authority recently sent the operators of the Sovereign Center a surprise: a letter demanding that the arena replace its big water meter within 30 days or risk the authority shutting off its water.

If the arena shuts down the system to replace the meter, or if the authority does, the arena can’t make ice, center general manager Zane Collings told the Berks County Convention Center Authority at its Thursday meeting.

The Reading Royals were in the middle of the hockey season when the Feb. 28 letter arrived and now they’re in the playoffs.  The team starts the Eastern Conference semifinals tonight.

City Council adopted the ordinance requiring the new meters 10 years ago.

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State Adds Extra Money To Reading Hotel Project

The long-planned 220-room Doubletree Convention Center Hotel on Penn Street has received a $500,000 bolster from the state.

The developers, led by retailer Albert R. Boscov, had applied for an additional $2.5 million state grant.

“The governor came in with $3 million,” Boscov said Thursday.

He said the project earlier had been approved for $14 million in grants from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, but the developers applied for more.

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Sovereign Center Concert Ticket Sales Rise

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the world’s top 200 arenas, the Sovereign Center ranked 160th for concert ticket sales in 2012, beating larger arenas such as the Giant Center in Hershey and the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, according to Pollstar, the concert tour industry’s leading trade publication.

The Sovereign Center also beat itself, moving up 30 places from its 190th ranking in 2011, general manager Zane Collings told the Berks County Convention Center Authority on Thursday.

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Reading Civic Center Venues Performing Better Than Last Year

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading’s two civic center venues are doing far better financially so far this season compared with the first five months of last season, but they still aren’t up to budget projections, the Berks County Convention Center Authority learned Thursday.

Several shows sold out, but attendance at others – among them Alan Jackson and American Idol – was lackluster, Zane Collings, general manager, told the board.

The civic center generally operates at a loss the first five months and did so again this year, he said. The loss was more than the budget projection, but far less than last year, he said.

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Reading City Council Approves Loan Tied To Hotel Project

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the request of retailer Albert R. Boscov, City Council on Monday approved adding a $1 million city loan to the financing package for the $59 million Doubletree Hotel that Boscov’s nonprofit agency is trying to bring downtown.

Boscov’s Our City Reading is planning the 200-room hotel to be built in the 700 block of Penn Street opposite the Sovereign Center.

The city loan would not come from local tax revenues but from federal funds – so-called Section 108 money – that the city gets to fund development projects.

Boscov’s nonprofit has borrowed millions of dollars in Section 108 funds in the past.  Boscov noted that it’s always paid off the loans early, never taking the allowed 20 years, and this year will make a $1.5 million early repayment of another Section 108 loan.

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Jehovah’s Witness Conventions Boosting Reading/Berks Economy

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have since 2005 spent several quiet weekends each summer at conventions in the Sovereign Center, without any of the fanfare given the concert idols and hockey giants normally associated with a sports/entertainment complex.

As a result, they are responsible for half the downtown civic center’s $254 million economic impact over its first decade.

That’s the surprise coming out of a study released last week by Dr. Lolita A. Paff, associate professor of business and economics at Penn State Berks.

The 225,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses who spent three days each at the conventions also spent nearly $111 million on gasoline, hotels (1,200 rooms a night), shopping and meals outside the arena from 2005 through 2011, Paff’s report said.

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New Signs To Point Way To Reading’s Penn Corridor Attractions

Finding attractions along Penn Avenue and Penn Street will soon be a bit easier.

Representatives from the Penn Corridor Initiative on Tuesday shared with City Council plans to install way-finding signs along the corridor, pointing people in the direction of spots like the Reading Public Museum, Reading Hospital and the Sovereign Center.

“A lot of people coming into the city see the Miller Center right there and say ‘How do I get there?’ ” said John Weidenhammer, chairman of the initiative.

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American Idol Live Tour Paying A Visit To Sovereign Center

The success that comes with being an “American Idol” finalist hasn’t gone to Skylar Laine’s head. She still enjoys the simpler things in life, like hanging out with friends, hunting and getting toasty by a bonfire.

But that doesn’t mean the 18-year-old native of Brandon, Miss., isn’t fired up about being on tour as part of American Idol Live!, which takes center stage at the Sovereign Center in Reading on Saturday night.

“It’s been awesome and a lot of fun,” said Laine about touring the country with the other top 10 finalists from Season 11 of “American Idol.” “It’s a really great experience.”

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Treasure Hunters Take Over Downtown Reading

Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks Cou...

Downtown Reading, Pennsylvania; with Berks County courthouse on left; July 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fourteen teams with names like The Mad House, Lady Berks and The Lucky Stars did a fast-walking search for treasure up and down Penn Street on Saturday afternoon, looking through stores, talking to total strangers and peering into restaurants.

The organizers, the Downtown Improvement District, hoped the participants would find that Penn Street itself is the treasure.

The is DID’s second year for the Downtown Reading Treasure Hunt, and with 87 people on the teams, including six groups returning from last year, there were double the participants.

“Our goal is to introduce people to downtown Reading who would not normally come down here,” said Charles R. Broad, DID executive director. “People get amazed at the kind of things they find here.”

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Losses At Reading Civic Centers Likely To Hit $700,000

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Echoing their projections of two months ago, members of the Berks County Convention Center Authority said Thursday that the two venues likely will show an operating loss of $700,000 by the end of the season June 30.

They also voted to let the Jehovah’s Witnesses pay the rent for their upcoming summer conventions by replacing, for $29,000, an outdated processer in what the board acknowledged is the arena’s terrible sound system.

Board members said they are making plans to head off losses the next season.

“We can’t and won’t have a replication of that in the next year,” said Carl E. Herbein, board treasurer.

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Diana Ross Rocks Reading!

Diana Ross 2007 in Rotterdam

Image via Wikipedia

Iconic Diana Ross proved tonight why she is still “The Boss” at the Sovereign Center in Reading.  The packed house went wild at the first glimpse of her behind a sheer curtain and fog.

Miss Ross started out with a Motown Medley and had people dancing in their seats, clapping their hands and singing along!  She moved through the decades singing hit after hit; and the woman can still sing!  Her unmistakable trademark voice is still strong.  She was backed up by an excellent band and three very talented singers.

Then there were the dresses.  Miss Ross changed six times!  The gowns were long, covered in sequins or rhinestones and she rocked six different colors.  The lighting changed to the color of her dress so the set matched her outfit.  Miss Ross was very generous with her backup singers and her band.  She introduced everyone during the course of the show and allowed the instrumentalists and singers to do solos.

Except for quick dress changes Miss Ross sang the entire time.  Songs ended and before the applause subsided she would be starting in on another hit.  Another meaningful part of the set were the pictures flashing on a giant screen in the back of the set depicting her life and many other music legends.

Miss Ross remarked several times how much love she felt from the audience and many people yelled “We love you Diana” during the concert.  Miss Ross used all that love and positive energy to deliver an amazing performance to the delight of the packed house.  She did one encore – “Reach Out And Touch” before the show ended. 

Thank you Diana Ross for a great evening!

America’s Best Affordable Places To Retire

Reading's Pagoda seen from Skyline Drive

Image via Wikipedia

A new survey of great places to live if you are retired.  Number 7 – Reading, PA!  The one and only Pennsylvania location in a mostly Florida and Arizona list.  Click on the link below to see all the winners!

Carrie Underwood Is Coming To Reading

Carrie Underwood is making a stop at the Sovereign Center in Reading on March 11th as part of her upcoming tour.  The show is at 7:30 pm. 

Tickets go on sale 12/18 at 10 am so check out Ticketmaster or the Sovereign Center box office for more information.

One On One With Danny Gokey, American Idol Season 8 Finalist

Check out the last in a series of five interviews done by Marcus Shellenberger with American Idol Tour Season 8 contestants who appeared at the Sovereign Center in Reading, PA last week.  Very popular contestant Danny Gokey is featured in the last interview!

You can also check out Marcus’ blog at

One On One With Scott MacIntyre – Season 8 American Idol Finalist

Check out another outstanding interview done by Marcus Shellenberger of the Pottstown Herald.  Marcus interviewed Scott MacIntyre at the Sovereign Center Reading, PA last week.