There is a very valid argument that the Staples Center is the most well-known and iconic arena venue on the West Coast. Any arena located in a metro area of over 18 million people is certainly going to host a lot of events, but over the years the Staples Center has seeped into the public conscious in the same way as Madison Square Garden or the Boston Garden.
The Staples Center was initially opened in October 1999, and was constructed for an enormous $375 million. If that money were to be converted into 2015 dollars, adjusted for cost of living and inflation, that number would rocket up to $531 million. The first event at the center was not actually a sporting event at all; rather it was a concert by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Since opening the Staples Center has hosted seven NBA Finals series, three WNBA Finals series, two NBA All-Star Games (2004 and 2011), the 52nd NHL All-Star game, the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament for over a decade, an NHL Finals series (2012) and the Grammys annually.
One of the cooler features of the Staples Center is the Star Plaza which is located just outside the arena. The Star Plaza is an area which was initially home to statues of Wayne Gretzky and Magic Johnson, two local favorites who, ironically, played their entire careers at the old L.A. Forum. Over the years statues of boxer Oscar De La Hoyer, Lakers broadcaster Chuck Hearn, Laker legend Jerry West (who the NBA logo is based on), Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kings’ Hall of Fame left Wing Luc Robittaille have been added. This is an awesome tribute to some of the names who have made L.A. such an important city for both hockey and basketball over the years.
As with all arenas around the country the Staples Center has been renovated over the years. In 2010 a major modification took place which saw the locker rooms for the Kings, Clippers and Lakers become some of the best and most player friendly around. A new center hung scoreboard was added to the arena, bringing the latest in video and graphic technology to a city which demands the best. Upgrades were also made to the food service in the arena, which led to PETAA naming the Staples Center the most vegetarian-friendly arena in the NBA in 2013.
The Staples Center has a secret tunnel which joins it to the nearby Microsoft Theater. The tunnel brings the walk between the two buildings down to around thirty seconds and is used by staff and VIPs to get between the events. A famous story speaks of how musical artist Seal used the tunnel to allow him to watch the first half of a Lakers game at the Staples Center before heading underground to the (then) Nokia Theater through the tunnel in order to put on a concert.
The Staples Center was also the location for a memorial service for Michael Jackson twelve days after his death in 2009. Jackson’s songs were performed by legends such as Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie and a poem was written especially for the service by Maya Angelou. The Staples Center gave away 17,500 free tickets to the service and within 24 hours they had over 1.2 million applications from around the world.
image courtesy of staplescenter.com