West Coast Bias: Los Angeles Becomes Center of Sports World for One Weekend

The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles has seen its fair share of activity since opening in 1999. The arena has hosted events such as the Grammy Awards, Democratic National Convention and concerts from the likes of Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Beyonce Knowles and Michael Jackson.

The Staples Center could have used an Easy Button during a busy sports weekend.

But nothing could have prepared the Staples Center for what it experienced this weekend: Six NHL and NBA playoff games over four days. The NHL’s Kings made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals and hosted Games 3 and 4 at the arena on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile the NBA’s Clippers and Lakers — who both play at Staples but use different courts and arena setups — played their respective Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals between Friday and Sunday night.

In order, the arena transformed from Kings to Lakers to Clippers to Lakers to Kings to Clippers, and each time roughly 20,000 fans filed in and out for each game. The changeover is grueling for the 45 arena workers in charge of making the switch between games. The change from basketball to hockey is considered the most difficult, taking roughly two hours and 15 minutes to complete.

The NBA and NHL weren’t the only attractions in town, however. The MLB’s Dodgers hosted a three-game series with the defending World Series champion Cardinals from Friday to Sunday at Dodger Stadium, just over four miles away from Staples Center. Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy hosted rival Chivas USA on Saturday at the Home Depot Center, only 20 minutes south of L.A. in Carson, Calif. Throw in the Amgen Tour of California Bicycle Race, which ran through the downtown area, and you have a sports fans’ dream weekend all in one location.

Revenue numbers are still being tallied up, with the Staples Center events expected to net between $15 and $20 million for the six games. The biggest gain, however, could be seen on the gridiron. Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since the Raiders and Rams departed in 1994. Los Angeles city councilwoman Jan Perry called the busy weekend a “test case” to see how the city could handle major congestion and if a football stadium could co-exist downtown. Farmers Field, a roughly $1.25 billion football stadium and entertainment complex, has been proposed for construction downtown to be completed by 2016, but is awaiting city government and taxpayer approval. Michael Roth of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Staples Center, said the weekend’s activity was a “success on all levels.”

For one weekend at least, Randy Newman had sports fans singing along.

Photo (cc) by johanohrling and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.


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