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Citizens Business Bank Arena opens for I.E. action

October 23, 2008 | 11:03 am

An interior shot of the new Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Down on the Citizens Business Bank Arena ice earlier today, the Kings' minor-league team, the Ontario Reign, were practicing passes and shots. The arena walls were adorned with a large Kobe Bryant picture -- the Lakers will play here Friday night. There also was a boxing news conference for an upcoming bout.

This was my first look at the new arena in Ontario, and I'd have to say I'm quite impressed -- and not just because of local pride. The 10,000-seat, AEG-managed, city-owned venue fits a niche for the four million or so Southern Californians who live east of the 57 freeway, and anyone else who wants to come over.

Metallica and Alan Jackson will play here soon -- so will other acts who may have a tough time selling out Staples Center. Steve Eckerson, the arena's general manager, said he expects to have 130 to 150 events on his 2009 calendar, along with hockey and basketball and boxing cards.

Promoter Dan Goossen will bring world champion Paul Williams and unbeaten Riverside heavyweight Chris Arreola to the arena Nov. 29. And since AEG owns a piece of boxing's Golden Boy Promotions, Eckerson expects that connection to result in more shows coming to the new arena.

"We anticipate a sellout," Eckerson said of the Nov. 29 card. Tickets are priced from $25 to $200 and go on sale tomorrow. "I think this will be a great boxing market," Eckerson added.

Arreola certainly loved the 10-minute car ride from his home. He swaggered through his time on the dais, and after someone said his fight versus NABF heavyweight champ Travis Walker will establish the best American heavyweight, he pulled out his BlackBerry, scanned his foe's other opponents, and said, "Those guys are bums. I ain't no bum."

Coming off a fight where he admitted to training on too many burritos and beers, Arreola expects to be 20 pounds lighter (around 230) for Walker, and Goossen promised a victory will ensure "Arreola will be fighting for a heavyweight world championship next year." That means fighting Wladimir Klitschko, who currently wears the WBC belt.

Williams, meanwhile,  is going after Verno Phillips' junior middleweight title, and says he can fight anyone between 147 pounds and 160, including middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. The ongoing problem is that Goossen continues to struggle finding Williams a glamour fight.

"[Shane] Mosley won't, go ask him," Williams said. "[Welterweight champ Antonio] Margarito wants the easy way out."

Goossen promised to ultimately find that opponent. "We owe it to Paul to make him a big star, and we will," he said.

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: An interior shot of the new Citizens Business Bank Arena. Credit: Rossetti Associates Inc.