Staples backs L.A. arena

The design of the new Staples Center, the downtown Los Angeles venue designed as a catalyst to revitalize the area, was unveiled Monday. In addition to being designed as the home to the L.A. Lakers and the Kings, business leaders and city officials suggest the venue will also compete for such high-profile annual events as the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards ceremonies.

The 20,000-plus-seat venue is dubbed the Staples Center as a result of the 20-year partnership established between the office supply company and the L.A. Arena Co., the latter the outfit headed by the owners of the Lakers and Kings. Staples paid $100 million for the signage rights.

“Partnering with the Lakers, the Kings and the City of Los Angeles in the development of the center is an opportunity for us to say thank you and to give back to the community some of what we have gained in seven years of doing business with the people of this state,” said Thomas Stemberg, chairman and CEO of Staples. Stemberg said the center “marks a new chapter in (Staples’) history.”

Execs in the concert, sports and live show industries surveyed note that a new venue acts as a magnet for events that are typically held elsewhere. They also note that the older venues — though tried and true — don’t have the same cache as new sites.

“Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world and with (the Staples Center) the city will have a facility that belongs in the entertainment capital of the world,” Fred Rosen, prexy of Ticketmaster, told Daily Variety.

The new design was unveiled during a luncheon/press conference at the Convention Center’s North Hall. The venue, which will house the Lakers and the Kings for 25 years beginning in 1999, will cost north of $300 million to construct. It will adjoin the Convention Center.

A key element of the partnership between Staples and the L.A. Arena Co. is the formation of the Staples Center Foundation, an org designed to benefit the youth of Los Angeles. The foundation will raise $1 million to provide to Inner-City Arts, a non-profit art center educating elementary school children in downtown Los Angeles.

The venue will boast 2,500 club-level seats, 160 luxury suites, five levels, two restaurants — which will be run by Levy Restaurants in partnership with Ogden Entertainment — private clubs, business centers and offices to house the Lakers and Kings staffs. It is expected to hold 230 events annually.

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