Jack Gulati has hit the ground running as the new owner of the Reading Royals, pledging to push the professional ice hockey team to new heights as a crown jewel ambassador and catalyst for growth in Berks County.
Gulati and his Fidelity Investment Corporation finalized Tuesday their purchase of the reigning East Coast Hockey League champions from the Berks County Convention Center Authority and SMG, which was subject to the approval of both the ECHL and the BCCCA.
"The Royals have a spectacular history on the ice, particularly in the last several seasons," Gulati said. "The team has had an immeasurably positive influence on our community, but we see untapped potential with this organization, and we have a specific plan that starts with the investment of resources, the installation of an experienced and knowledgeable leadership group, and the energetic pursuit of positive change and growth."
Gulati outlined several specific goals he plans to implement right away:
- Making the game night experience a personal choice of first resort that is accessible to everyone, from longtime fans and season-ticket holders, to persons and families who may not consider themselves sports fans;
- Expanding existing partnerships with businesses and community leaders, developing new relationships with corporate partners, and rebuilding relationships that may have existed in years past;
- Improving all phases of the game night experience from the moment of arriving in downtown Reading, to entering the arena, to enjoying the in-game activities and possible post-game entertainment options in and around the arena;;
- Developing a first-class base of resources (locker room, housing, travel) for players to ensure that top level professional hockey talent considers playing in Reading a premier opportunity;
- Recruiting, installing and training an elite management and administrative staff;
- Combining forces with the BCCCA and SMG to make state-of-the-art capital upgrades to Santander Arena; and
- Continuing the organization’s commitment to community support through the expansion of the Royals Charity foundation and the direct infusion of charitable funds and activities within Greater Reading.
Gulati said he wanted to buy the league for fear that another new owner would move the championship team to a new location.
"I think we need something like this. It would be a terrible thing if it were to move," said Gulati. "That would bring more hard of times, potentially, to Reading, and I want to be part of saving Reading. I want to see the whole downtown area revitalize."
Gulati has a history of success in Berks County as the owner and operator of a variety of businesses, including Fidelity Technologies Corporation in Muhlenberg Township. He also spearheaded the revitalization of Stokesay Castle in Lower Alsace Township, expanding the restaurant and banquet facility to include an English-style pub. He also plans to build a hotel on the site.
Gulati currently serves as a member of the investment group funding the construction of the new DoubleTree Hotel and Convention Center on Penn Street, across from the Santander Arena.
Karen Marsdale, senior vice president of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said she is "thrilled" by Gulati's purchase.
"Sporting events and teams, homegrown venues like this, play a huge part in our quality of life and our economic vibrancy," she told 69 News.
The Royals clinched their second consecutive conference title in the final home game of the regular season Saturday night.