ONT, meet WSJ


The august Wall Street Journal last week covered the struggle for control of Ontario International Airport (find story here), focusing on the juicy detail that Tommy Lasorda was hired as pitchman for the anti-L.A. side. (We’ll see if that effort has more sustained success than Lasorda’s Slim-Fast ads.) Here are the first four paragraphs of Tamara Audi’s piece:

“ONTARIO, Calif.–The Ontario International Airport, 35 miles east of Los Angeles, offers nonstop flights to just 15 cities. Daily departures have plummeted to 62, less than half the number five years ago.

“The international airport has one nonstop passenger flight out of the country, a three-hour trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. Security officials stand around waiting for a passenger to screen, coffee shops and bookstores are empty, and the runways are quiet enough to hear the rustle of trees and birds chirping.

“Ontario city officials believe part of the problem is the airport’s ownership by Los Angeles and have waged a long battle to wrest back control of it. The campaign hadn’t gained much buzz in L.A., until locals recently brought in a pinch hitter: Tommy Lasorda.

“The 84-year-old Baseball Hall of Famer has pitched for the Dodgers, the antacid tablet Rolaids, the diet drink Slim-Fast and 1990s videogame-maker Sega Genesis. Still, Mr. Lasorda’s latest pitch–on behalf of a struggling regional airport fighting for independence from Los Angeles–is out of left field.”

Ontario’s marketing coup made for good copy. Also worth reading are the online comments, some from disgruntled ONT fliers who’ve watched the airport wither. Be warned, however, that the accompanying video will, over the course of nearly 4 minutes, make you think less of the WSJ.

(Our own Liset Marquez had the Lasorda story weeks ago, of course, but Wall Street Journal coverage gave it a national profile.)

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