The CIF found Ontario a few years ago, and is now coming back more and more.
The CIF-SS announced this week that the Southern Section Masters wrestling meet is coming to Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Feb. 28-March 1, 2014. And it’s not for just one year. The commitment is for three years.
I think it’s a great move for CIF and for Ontario. The CIF-SS came to Ontario a few years ago, when they started having small-division basketball finals at Colony High School, which they still do. Then the state CIF brought regional final basketball games to CBB Arena a couple of years ago.
The CIF-SS Masters meet used to be strictly a state qualifier, no awards, no ceremony and it was originally only one day. It was big for wrestling fans, but the CIF-SS didn’t make nearly as big a deal of it as they did for divisional finals. But it outgrew Fountain Valley High, then Carter High couldn’t keep it. Temecula Valley did a decent job (although far from media-friendly) with it, but this is making it into a big-time event that it should be. It will be in an arena roughly the same size as the State Meet in Bakersfield, which is held at Rabobank Arena.
The CIF-SS says it will seat 9,736 for wrestling. The first year or two, it might not be close to capacity (although maybe it will). But the event will grow into the arena. And it brings quite a bit of legitimacy to the event. And while Ontario isn’t close for everyone, it’s closer for most than Temecula.
And when athletes realize they have a chance to compete in an arena that size, it can only help the sport. It can also bring money to the area in terms of restaurants and hotels, which isn’t a bad thing. And it’s a win for the arena, too. The more people you get to the arena from different areas, the more who are willing to return for other events, whether it is the Reign, a concert, circus or basketball.
Win for CIF-SS, win for local fans, win for wrestlers, win for local businesses, win for the arena.