If you've been to a concert at the ENMAX Centre (formerly the Canada Games Sportsplex) since it opened in 1975, chances are you've been to a show promoted by Ron Sakamoto.
Monday evening, in front of his family and close friends, Ron Sakamoto's legacy and ongoing commitment to Lethbridge was honoured with the unveiling of a new dedication wall at the ENMAX Centre.
Sak's Honourary Wall – Community Builder, Leader, Innovator, as it will be known, highlights the importance Sakamoto (known as Sak to many) has had to Lethbridge. It will recognize the contributions he has made to the community and the local, national and international accolades he has received over his career.
"I want to offer a huge congratulation to Ron for his countless accomplishments which have benefited so many people in our community in many different ways," says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. "He is a true champion of our community and this is a well-deserved recognition to bestow upon him."
The wall is located in the west lower level of the ENMAX Centre, or referred to as the West Event Level, which is the main hub of all major events. This location was recommended by Ron's family as he is always working behind the scenes to make things happen and will be seen by those who work closest with him.
"Our staff tried counting the number of shows Ron has brought to Lethbridge over the years and it has well surpassed 100," says Kim Gallucci, General Manager at the ENMAX Centre. "Ron's imprint and contributions to live music, tourism and quality of life in Lethbridge, as well as the success of so many world-class headliners who have performed at this venue, are immeasurable."
Despite coming from farming roots in Southern Alberta, Sakatmoto went on to have international success. He is extremely proud of being able to accomplish all of that while still calling Lethbridge home.
"I had a dream." says Sakamoto when describing the growth of his company – Gold & Gold Productions. "And people said I could never do it from Lethbridge. But then I said – why? Why not? I don't have to live anywhere else but Lethbridge because the people here are the best. I'm a Southern Albertan from day I was born until the day I die."
Sakamoto was emotional and extremely thankful when the dedication wall was unveiled, sharing photos and incredible memories from his 50+ year career.
Some of Sakamoto's notable accomplishments include:
- 1964 – Opens first nightclub, Honeycomb A Go Go in Lethbridge for teens
- 1968 – Launches Gold & Gold Productions Ltd.
- 1975 – First event at Lethbridge Sportsplex, a Doobie Brothers concert
- 1993 – Wins first Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Promoter of the Year. After receiving this honour for the next 17 years, the award is re-named to "Ron Sakamoto Talent Buyer or Promoter of the Year" in 2010
- 1996 - Receives Award of Exceptional Citizenship from Lethbridge Mayor David Carpenter
- 2001 – University of Lethbridge creates Ron Sakamoto Scholarship
- 2001 – Wins Country Music Association (CMA) International/Talent Buyer of the Year Award
- 2003 – Receives Honourary Doctorate of Law degree from the University of Lethbridge
- 2006 – Wins second CMA International/Talent Buyer of the Year Award
- 2007 – Awarded CCMA Hank Smith Award of Excellence
- 2008 – Presented Key to the City by Lethbridge Mayor Bob Tarleck
- 2010 – Establishes Digital Audio Arts Scholarship with wife Joyce, for the Digital Arts and Music Program at the University of Lethbridge
- 2012 – Awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
- 2012 – Becomes owner of Paradise Canyon Golf Resort
- 2013 – Donates 28 guitars to Galbraith Elementary School to start their music program
- 2013 – Launches Sakamoto Agency
- 2013 – Wins International Entertainment Buyer's Association (IEBA) International Buyer of the Year Award
- 2014 – Inducted into Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame
- 2015 – Presented the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Business Legacy Award
- 2017 – Honoured with Blackfoot Name Komahniisihnskii (Owns Many Songs)
- 2017 – Substantial donation to Angel Tree Program enabling Lethbridge Family Services to fulfil every child's dream of a Christmas gift
- 2019 – Sponsors One District One Book with 13,000 books distributed to Lethbridge School District No.51
- 2019 – Awarded the Music Managers Forum (MMF) Canada Brian Chater Pioneer Award for instrumental contributions to artist management in Canada (for immeasurable contributions to Music Management Canada)
- 2019 – Becomes a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence