Students gain access to experiential learning
Alvernia University partners with the ECHL's Reading Royals and Santander Arena to bring hockey back to downtown Reading for the 2021-22 season after the 2020-21 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the university's O'Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship’s student-powered business incubator, students gain access to experiential learning in the entertainment industry as part of a multiyear sponsorship.
"Santander Arena and the entertainment it offers is integral to the vibrancy of the downtown Reading community,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “The Royals partnership is not only integral to our dedication to enhancing the student experience but vital to the facilitation of continued entrepreneurial spirit and economic growth as part of the Reading CollegeTowne initiative.”
Through the O’Pake Institute, Alvernia Students will work directly with the Royals’ management team to create dynamic traditional and digital marketing materials. Students will produce content and work with professionals to strategize, track metrics and record campaign outcomes. This activity is happening in alignment with the Royals’ 20th Anniversary season.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Alvernia University to downtown Reading and look forward to partnering together as much as possible,” said ASM Global Managed Santander Arena and Santander Performing Arts Center General Manager David Farrar. “We're happy to join forces with the O’Pake Institute to market and promote the Reading Royals 20th Anniversary Season. We hope to offer the fellows a hands-on learning experience that will benefit each student for years to come.”
The O’Pake Institute is committed to providing students in the O’Pake Fellows Program with distinctive hands-on learning opportunities. Currently, over 25 students work year-round in the program to service over 50 entrepreneurs, small and established businesses.
“There is no better way to prepare for our expansion to downtown Reading this fall than by partnering with one of our new neighbors,” said COO of the O’Pake Institute, Vice President and Interim Dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Dr. Rodney Ridley. “The students and staff are already getting acclimated to working downtown through this partnership, and we look forward to increasing and deepening our downtown neighbor connections.”
O’Pake serves as the catalyst for educational and business expansion in center city Reading. In addition to the partnership with the Reading Royals, O’Pake has secured partnerships with SCORE Berks Schuylkill Chapter, Lehigh Valley Angel Investors, Kutztown University’s Small Business Development Center, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and ReadingFilmFEST, as well as the institute’s initial group of sponsors, Pepsi®, Customers Bank, the Wyomissing Foundation, RKL, LLP, Visions Federal Credit Union and the Berks Alliance.
In January, Alvernia started a $20 million renovation project on its newly acquired building at 401 Penn Street, which will serve as the hub of Reading CollegeTowne, a strategic model for economic development in downtown. The downtown location, where the new O’Pake offerings will operate, is slated to open in August 2021.
The Reading Royals are preparing for their 20th anniversary season and are proudly affiliated with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Royals won the Kelly Cup in 2013, have clinched a playoff berth 15 times, and are four-time division champions. The Berks County Convention Center Authority (BCCCA), founded in 1996, owns the Royals and oversees operations at Santander Arena and the Santander Arena Performing Arts Center.