It's official: Reading Royals become Philadelphia Flyers affiliate

ECHL team also forms partnership with AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Royals and Flyers make it official

READING, Pa. - For the first time in team history, the Reading Royals have joined forces with the National Hockey League's Philadelphia Flyers.

The two teams made the formal announcement during a news conference Wednesday morning at the Santander Arena in center city.

"The Royals are committed to achieving excellence in all facets of our operations, and we're confident that by joining forces with the Flyers and the [Lehigh Valley] Phantoms of the AHL we're taking a significant positive step in that direction," said Drew Bell, the Royals president. "We see this as a perfect fit for our team, as both operations have a proven track record of winning and are supported by legendarily passionate fans."

The new affiliation agreement is getting a strong reaction from fans.

"I think it's great. It's like family coming together," said Clyde Mock, a longtime fan of the Royals.

"I'm really excited for it because I'm a huge Flyers fan," said Taylor Steffey, a fan from Sinking Spring.

Officials with the Royals said the timing was right from both a hockey and marketing standpoint. They're hoping a heavy Flyers fan base in the area will help fill the seats inside the Santander Arena. Even after a Kelly Cup Championship in 2013, the Royals struggled to bring in a big crowd.

"Overall, I definitely think you're going to see an uptick in attendance," said Mark Wallace, vice president of sales and marketing for the Royals.

"To be close to home, it'll be exciting to see some of the players come through and develop and have even a bigger rooting interest in the Royals," said Shane Heckman, a big fan of the Royals and Flyers.

The Royals are also unveiling a host of new marketing strategies to attract more kids and families to the game, but as of right now, their name and logo will remain the same, said officials.

"As the relationship goes along, I'm sure there is going to be talk to think of new ideas and keep things fresh, but right now purple is pride," Wallace said.

The affiliation with the Flyers also sets up a partnership with the American Hockey League's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, another Flyers affiliate. The Phantoms will begin play in Allentown in the upcoming season.

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