Looking backward at Citizens Business Bank Arena

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Earlier this year I got a tour of some fun features at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena as I was researching a column on the rock festival California Jam’s 40th anniversary. I meant to share these photos before now but as they encompass several elements of history, I wasn’t sure how to arrange them and mentally put them aside to deal with later — and, naturally, forgot. Until now.

As patrons walk around theĀ arena’sĀ concourse, they might see a display of citrus crate labels that pay homage to the valley’s agricultural past. The Nucleus label is one of the most atmospheric I can remember having seen, and Angora is so darned cute. I hope the oranges didn’t have claw marks and cat hair on them.

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Meanwhile, another wall honors the old Ontario Motor Speedway, which was on land that became the arena and a portion of Ontario Mills. There’s an aerial view with a helpful guide, plus vintage posters and other memorabilia.

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Finally, there’s a blowup of my own feature story on California Jam on one wall. The 1974 rock festival, and its 1978 sequel, took place at the speedway. The display encompasses two pages of April 4, 2002 U section, which also includes a portion of one of my columns (not an especially memorable one, but what can you do), meaning that the wall has my byline on the Jam story, my face on my column and a whole bunch of words by me in both. A high honor!

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I like the touch of a coffee cup and coffee ring on the paper too.

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The above displays were the brainchildren of Sue Oxarart, the arena’s marketing manager and a local history buff, bless her heart. She’s leaving the arena’s employ but isn’t going far: She’s the new communications director for the Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau. We’ve run into each other now and then over the years going back to the late 1990s and it looks like we’ll continue doing so.

News of her new role reminded me of these photos — and I decided I ought to finally produce this blog post before she left the arena!

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