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Alexander: Yes, Staples Center turns 20 this month

first_imgStaples Center, primarily privately financed and the first major project of what would become the Anschutz Entertainment Group, has not been a bust by any stretch of the imagination.Since it opened on Oct. 17, 1999, with the first of four Bruce Springsteen concerts, it has become the sports and entertainment heartbeat of the nation’s second-largest city. And it’s fair to say that the development it spawned – the L.A. Live complex across the street, which includes the Microsoft Theater, the Grammy Museum, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, a bowling alley, a multiplex, ESPN studios, etc. – has done its part in transforming the neighborhood from a ghost town of blighted buildings, parking lots and undeveloped land into a true destination.It might not quite be the L.A. equivalent of Times Square, as some of the early hyperbole suggested. But it has become the sort of civic gathering place that didn’t previously exist downtown, which is where a great city should have its communal space.Staples Center’s impact on sports and entertainment in this community is obvious, as the home of the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Sparks, Grammy Awards and plenty of other attractions. There are 207 events this calendar year alone, including concerts by Elton John, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Michael Bublé, the Backstreet Boys, etc.It would be quite appropriate – call it a 20th anniversary gift – if the building became the first in modern NBA history to host all seven games of a playoff series. It would be even more appropriate if it were a Lakers-Clippers Western Conference finals; that would assure the building of its eighth NBA Finals, to go with three NBA All-Star Games, two NHL All-Star Games, two Kings Stanley Cup celebrations and three WNBA Finals with the Sparks. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error (We will, incidentally, make no cracks about how Taylor Swift has one more banner in the building than the Clippers. We will say that even as the third tenant, the Clippers profited greatly from moving from the Sports Arena to Staples. Now, as they plan their own building in Inglewood, they have the best chance they’ve ever had to rectify that banner deficit.)But Staples Center and L.A. Live didn’t just transform a few blocks of that South Park neighborhood. Its effect was wider.Carol Schatz is now retired, the president emeritus of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. In the days before Staples Center opened, I talked to her in her capacity as the leader of an organization of downtown merchants, and she made the point that the arena would turn a 9-to-5 downtown into “a 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. downtown.”She miscalculated slightly, she says now.“Literally, I’d say probably by 2015 or so it was a 24/7 downtown,” she said in a phone conversation Monday.“The way I know that for a fact: When my husband and I moved downtown, because we had a rehab going in our home in West L.A. and had to move out, I was absolutely blown away at how much energy there was on the streets well past 11 and midnight. I kind of just pinched myself as I walked around, (seeing) people with baby carriages and dogs and all that, which never, ever would have been seen when we began this effort.”Staples and L.A. Live, which opened late in 2007, was just one factor in rejuvenating downtown. Another, she said, was bringing people back to the area as residents, by creating an environment that made it enticing.“Instead of the tail wagging the dog,” she said, downtown “became the economic engine for the entire region, which is what a downtown in a big city should be doing.”It does have its imitators, too. The entertainment district that will surround SoFi Stadium when Stan Kroenke’s 298-acre project opens for Rams and Chargers home games in Inglewood next year in many ways takes its cue from what AEG has done downtown.Meanwhile, consider this: The latest big arena project, the new Chase Center in San Francisco, cost $1.4 billion. Staples Center was built for an estimated $375 million – around $574 million in 2019 dollars – although the ultimate price tag for L.A. Live came to around $2.5 billion.Their effect on downtown L.A.? I’d say it was worth the [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on TwitterStaples Center has hosted some of the biggest events in sports and entertainment since it first opened in the fall of 1999 and has helped revitalize much of the surrounding downtown community. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)center_img Who knew, or could even guess, just what the impact could be when Phil Anschutz and Ed Roski first talked about building a new arena in downtown L.A.The negotiating, between the owners of the Kings and the Los Angeles City Council over what was planned, who was paying for it and what the city’s liability would be, began in earnest early in 1997. There were naysayers. Some wondered if losing the North Hall of the Convention Center, where the arena would be built, was a deal-breaker. Others worried about the city being on the hook for the bonds to begin development of the adjacent property.During one of those city council meetings, according to a Daily News story from May of 1997, one council member voiced this concern: “What happens if this is a bust? We’ll end up with a vacant building.”We will not name that council member. No sense dunking on ’em more than two decades later.last_img read more

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