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Bigger than we think

first_imgWe aren’t important enough or hip enough to be otherwise. We don’t have enough money. There aren’t enough of us. We are a Los Angeles/ We bring our inferiority complexes with us. East on the 10, the 60, the 91, the 210. To our homes in Chino, Colton, Redlands, Victorville. We already “know” it: The Inland Empire is minor league. Orange County afterthought. Even as development explodes, population soars and our demographics trend steadily upward. We not only don’t mind not having major-league sports, we don’t even expect them. Never mind that the combined population of San Bernardino and Riverside counties is about 4 million while our aggregate income approaches $90 billion. It’s time to think big. And bigger. A significant step toward a collective shout of “I am somebody!” occurred this week, when the city of Ontario broke ground on a $130 million arena, to near-universal acclaim. center_img It is a first for a stunningly under-served region: A glittering indoor venue that can play host to professional basketball and hockey, not to mention concerts and family shows of all sorts. Exactly the sort of thing no one in the IE had the vision or will to make happen, until Ontario did. But it isn’t as if we’re building Staples Center here. Or even the Honda Arena. Ontario’s arena will seat about 10,000 for professional sports. And those sports will, in fact, be minor league. Perhaps the ECHL of hockey. The NBA Development League. Maybe some lower-level incarnation of arena football. The indoor equivalents of baseball’s California League, which has four franchises in the IE. That’s cool, for now, because we’re starting from Ground Zero. Can’t even be minor league in indoor sports when you’ve never had an indoor for them to play in. But down the line, we need to act and think like a big market – because we are. A market bigger than Tampa-St. Petersburg (2.5million people). Richer than Kansas City ($77.4billion), Milwaukee ($75.7) and Buffalo ($41.4). All those are “major league” cities. With all the mental, emotional and financial boosts that go along with that designation. The population and income figures cited here come from a study done a year ago by G.Scott Thomas of bizjournals.com. A study that shucked traditional thinking about what is major league (Buffalo) and what is not (us) and looked purely at population and purchasing power – two statistics in which we are big and getting bigger. Tim Lieweke, president of AEG, owners of Staples Center and the Los Angeles Kings, agreed the Inland Empire already has many of the hallmarks of “big league.” “Could this area have its own NBA or NHL team in the future?” he asked himself during a conversation at the Ontario arena ground-breaking. “Yes. But it’s going to take some years to develop the area. Maybe 10 years?” That’s a lot shorter than “never” – which is how most of us think. People who look at these numbers unemotionally see an area prepared to support any sort of franchise. Including Major League Baseball, the most capital-intensive of all sports, requiring a collective income of $89.2billion, by bizjournals.com analysis – which is almost exactly what the IE generates now. Admittedly, the IE is hurt by not existing in a vacuum. Buffered by 100 miles of emptiness. We remain part of the L.A. media market, damaging a team’s ability to develop its own electronic advertising streams. We also will have to go to war with the Dodgers and Angels if we want a ball team, the Lakers and Clippers if we think “NBA,” the Ducks and Kings, on the NHL front. Curiously, perhaps our best chance at a local big-league team might be the National Football League. No current NFL team in L.A. or Orange County to object. How big would the Raiders be, in the IE? The 49ers? Even the Chargers? Think we could fill a stadium 10 times a year for the NFL? All we need is a stadium. (Oh, if only Fontana had built a football stadium instead of an under-used race track!) So far, Ontario seems to be the only IE city thinking big. Greg Devereaux, city manager, has talked of the possibility that a second 20,000-capacity arena could be built on the parking lot of the coming Citizens Business Bank Arena, with a multi-level parking structure constructed to house the extra vehicles. Maybe 10 years from now – the period of time Lieweke suggested – it will make sense. Maybe the Clippers will be ready to leave Staples. Or any number of NHL franchises will be eager to get into the Sun Belt. What can we do? For starters, stop talking ourselves down. Our leaders need to make sure others understand the collective economic clout of this region. And our citizens – you and me – need to stop thinking of ourselves as L.A. refugees good only as seat-warmers for L.A.’s teams. It could happen. Major league teams in a major league market. This one. Think of Ontario’s arena as Step 1 on the journey. DAILYBULLETINFor more musings from columnist Paul Oberjuerge check out his blog at dailybulletin.com/sports. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Immigrant jail loses accreditation

first_imgTERMINAL ISLAND: The facility is still holding people who await deportation but lost its status in August. By Peter Prengaman THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The immigration detention facility on Terminal Island, one of several in the nation to come under scrutiny from immigrant and civil rights groups, has lost its accreditation. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The center houses several hundred illegal immigrants who have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are facing deportation. The facility lost accreditation in August after failing to comply with mandatory standards, an official with the Alexandria, Va.-based American Correctional Association told The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public comments. Citing agency policy, the official declined to release the inspection report or elaborate on why the facility failed the renewal inspection, done every three years. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice confirmed the lost accreditation but said it was not related to detainee care – an issue that’s drawn criticism and lawsuits. “It was a facility maintenance issue,” said Kice, who declined to elaborate. Kice said the problem was corrected, and the agency planned to apply for reaccreditation early next year. The facility is still operating, and it was unclear what continued loss of accreditation could mean for it long term. Accreditation is important for immigration and other correctional facilities because it shows that national standards of care have been met, provides arguments against lawsuits and can reduce liability and insurance costs. Ranjana Natarajan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said immigration facilities strive for accreditation, so having it revoked was significant. “We don’t yet know the specific reason” for losing it, she said. “But we do know there are serious problems.” The facility came under sharp criticism last summer when a transgender Mexican immigrant with AIDS being housed there died while in custody. The family claimed Victor Arellano was improperly denied medical attention, a contention immigration officials rejected. In recent years, the ACLU and other groups have sued ICE over several detention facility issues, including alleged inadequate access to health care and prolonged detention. A lawsuit filed by the ACLU in June, aiming to stop immigration authorities from forcibly drugging deportees, cited an immigrant allegedly drugged at the Terminal Island facility.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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