PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL announced on Tuesday that Bakersfield Condors president Matthew Riley is the recipient of the ECHL Executive of the Year Award.
Riley was presented with the award at the Annual Board of Governors Meeting held June 14-15 in Henderson, Nev. The other finalists for the award, which is determined in a vote of ECHL Governors, were Darren Abbott of the South Carolina Stingrays, Dan Chapman of the Stockton Thunder, Gordon Kaye of the Reading Royals and Eric Trapp of the Idaho Steelheads.
“Matthew is a very fitting choice as Executive of the Year,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna. “Through his leadership the Condors are competitive on the ice, provide great entertainment for the fans of Bakersfield and have strong ties to both the charitable and business community.”
Bakersfield raised a record-breaking $470,000 in goods, services and monetary donations for non-profit organizations and schools in 2006-07 after leading the ECHL in 2005-06 with $405,540 in cash and product. In recognition of its charitable work in the community, the team has received the Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian Group Award each of the last two years.
Since joining the ECHL as an expansion team in 2003-04, the Condors have raised their attendance every year and finished fourth in the league in 2006-07 with 5,848 per game. The team surpassed 200,000 fans for the second-consecutive season with a team record 210,531, including five crowds over 8,000 at Rabobank Arena. Bakersfield increased its attendance by 4.4 percent from last year and has seen its average grow by 29.6 percent from 2003-04.
“Obviously this is an organizational award, and I’m very proud and owe a debt of gratitude to our staff, past and present, that has put their sweat into Condorstown,” said Riley. “I’m very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to run an organization in a great town with a great building and a great owner in Jonathan Fleisig.”
Named president of Bakersfield Sports Entertainment in 2001, Riley oversees the operations for the Condors and was integral in the start up of the Las Vegas Wranglers as well as working with the Fresno Falcons. He served as acting commissioner of the West Coast Hockey League in 2002 and played a large role in the transition to the ECHL while overseeing the cease of operations of the WCHL. Bakersfield was named Organization of the Year by the WCHL in Riley’s first season in 1998-99 and he was named Executive of the Year in his second season in 1999-2000.
Before joining the Condors, Riley worked in minor league baseball serving as executive director of the Mobile BayBears, general manager of the Mobile Bay Sharks, and assistant general manager of the Chattanooga Lookouts. He began his career in professional sports as an intern with the St. Louis Cardinals. A native of Keokuk, Iowa, Riley received his communications degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University and his master’s degree in sports management from the United States Sports Academy.
ECHL Executive Of The Year Winners
2007 Matt Riley Bakersfield Condors
2006 Steve Chapman Gwinnett Gladiators
2005 Steve Chapman Gwinnett Gladiators
2004 Terry Parks Alaska Aces
2003 John Butler Peoria Rivermen
2002 Matt Loughran Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies
2001 Craig Brush Florida Everblades
2000 Brian McKenna Trenton Titans
1999 Carl Scheer Greenville Grrrowl
1998 Charles Felix Pensacola Ice Pilots
1997 David Paitson Columbus Chill
1996 Dave Berryman Louisiana IceGators
1995 Harvey Feuerstein and Craig Laughlin Richmond Renegades
1994 Jean Gagnon and Pierre Paiement Roanoke Express
1993 Larry Kish Wheeling Thunderbirds
The league officially changed its name to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in three states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league that will have 25 teams playing in 17 states and British Columbia in 2007-08, including the Mississippi (Biloxi) Sea Wolves, who return after missing two seasons in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Opening Day for the 20th Anniversary Season will be Oct. 18 when the Johnstown Chiefs host the Wheeling Nailers at Cambria County War Memorial. The game is a rematch of Game 7 from the first-ever ECHL Finals played in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Cambria County War Memorial. The two teams will wear throwback jerseys for the Opening Day game that begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast worldwide on B2 Networks, the “Official Broadband Broadcast Provider of the ECHL”. The remaining teams will open their seasons the weekend of Oct. 19-21.
There have been 329 former ECHL players who have gone on to play in the NHL after playing in the ECHL, including a record 47 in 2005-06 and 26 in 2006-07. There have been 184 former ECHL players who have played their first game in the NHL in the past five seasons and 107 former ECHL players have skated in the NHL this season. More than 100 players under contract to NHL teams have played in the ECHL this season.
The ECHL is represented for the seventh consecutive year on the National Hockey League championship team in 2007 with Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, players Francois Beauchemin and George Parros and broadcasters John Ahlers and Steve Carroll.
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 27 teams in the American Hockey League in 2006-07 and for the past 17 years there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup champion.
In each of the last two seasons there have been more than 225 players who have played in both the ECHL and the AHL and there were over 800 call-ups involving more than 500 players.
In the last five seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 2,000 call-ups involving more than 1,000 players since 2002-03.
2008 ECHL All-Star Game and Skills Competition will be hosted by Stockton Thunder, City of Stockton and Stockton Arena on Jan. 22-23, 2008.
Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.