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Staples Center

Los Angeles, CA

Home of the Los Angeles Clippers

4.3

4.1

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Staples Center (map it)
1111 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015


Los Angeles Clippers website

Staples Center website

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 19,079

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Rise Up

I could not come up with a more appropriate way to start this review other than, "My, what a difference a year makes!"

In 2010-11, the Clippers were lining up brochures in Los Angeles tourism spots next to coupons for Disneyland and Universal Studios.

The 2012 season will probably go down as the biggest spike in Clippers fan growth, which started back in Buffalo in 1970. The franchise later moved to San Diego in 1978 and eventually the Clippers would land in their current city, albeit playing in the California Memorial Sport Arena.

Then in 1999, the Clippers would get a new home in the Staples Center, just a year after construction began on the privately financed $375 million arena. The Clippers would now have to share their new home with some other tenants in the Lakers, Sparks, and Kings.

When you first arrive to the Staples Center, you will quickly notice the large red "Rise Up" banner near the top of the building. This is how the Clippers personalize the building on the nights that they are the tenant. It's a needed touch as the plaza below has 3 statues dedicated to the Lakers and one to the Kings. Beyond just sporting events, the arena keeps itself busy, hosting over 250 events and watching approximately 4 million visitors pass through the doors annually.

While hosting a gamut of events, the arena is most known for its ability to host up to 19,079 basketball fans. Two-thirds of the seats are lower-bowl seating, so most fans get an up-close view of the action. Unfortunately for the average fan, there are also 2,500 club seats and 160 luxury suites, so the space for the more inexpensive seats is limited.

As you walk into the arena, you begin to feel the Clipper environment. The fans are clad in red and blue colors. As you walk towards your seats through the black curtains, you'll see the court is now surrounded by red and the paint is colored blue. The open wall space throughout the interior of the arena is covered by Clippers banners. The upper wall space in corners of the arena has projection Clippers logos and the ridiculously impressive scoreboard is now flashing red and blue.

The public address announcer, David Courtney, will soon welcome you to Clipper basketball and you'll be in for an entirely different experience than the other LA-based basketball team presents.

4.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

During my first few visits to Staples Center, I never took note of the food selection. This could have been a result of having many food options in nearby areas or being turned off by the site of seeing a McDonald's in a professional arena.

Upon closer look however, I noticed potentially more food options than I've ever witnessed at any other venue.

I started off by checking out Camacho's Cantina, perfectly suitable for any team in Southern California. Here, they offered Camacho's burrito ($9.50), nacho chips with guacamole ($6.50), a Camacho Bowl (choose a meat and up to five toppings for $9.50), two soft tacos (carne asada or chicken for $7.75), the Camacho nachos ($8.50), tamales (2 pork or chicken for $13.75), or the tostada salad ($9.50).

The arena has a vast showing of encased meat. Some of the options include the Frito pie dog (chili, cheddar cheese), tailgate on a plate (baked beans, potato salad, bbq sauce, and cheddar cheese), taco dog (taco), big kid dog (mac n cheese and fritos), and deli dog (sauerkraut and thousand island). Lastly there is the Downtown dog, skyscraper dog, spicy Italian sausage, and baja sausage; most options run from $5 to $8.

Some of the sweeter options can be found at Popcornopolis. The everyday popcorn can be had for $4.50 or a bottomless size for $6. Other options include Zebra $6.75, Kettle, Caramel, or Honey Barbeque for $5.50. The famous Wetzel's Pretzels are $4.75 (includes butter/salt, cinnamon/sugar, butter/almonds, or the nonfat option).

If none of these options has generated an interested, you could stop by the California Pizza Kitchen (pizzas for $9-$10, BBQ chicken chopped salad $9.25).

The Whistle Stop (which seemed to offer deli items and pasta) had turkey or pastrami sandwich for ($11.75), French dip ($10.75), potato salad or cole slaw for $3.50, sloppy joe sliders ($8.50), meatball mania ($12), "Victory Knot" giant pretzel ($14), garden salad ($10.25), hummus and pita plate ($8.25), and multiple pasta dishes for $9.50.

Another rather interesting stadium option is the sushi bar. You can get a variety of sushi plates ranging from $8 to $15.25 and pick up some fresh edamame on the side for $8.25. The "Sunset Plate" is probably the most expensive option in the arena for $45.

Of course, there is also a McDonald's, which offers food that you cannot find anywhere else in America. McDonalds $5-$8 per entrée and $5.75 to add fries and a soda.

The beverage options start with a large soda for $5, a Bottomless soda ($6.75), hot chocolate/coffee ($3), vitamin water ($5), Dasani water ($4), cocktails ($8.50 to $10.50 depending on quality of liquor used), specialty drinks including margarita (roughly $12), and wine (house for $6.75, premium wine $9). Beer is offered in two tiers with two sizes each (regular draft $8.25 & large $9.50 or premium regular $11 and large premium for $12).

Atmosphere    5

The atmosphere is certainly at the top of the Clippers experience. During games I am frightened to leave my seat for fear of missing the next rim-rocking dunk, "lob city" alley-oop, third row blocked shot, or Clippers fast break.

It's a wildly different atmosphere from the one offered by the Lakers, yet still provides one of the best in the NBA.

After a rousing introduction of the some of the league's brightest stars, the Clippers do take a number of actions to get the fans motivated however. While it's odd that the team does not have a mascot, they do have the "Clipper Spirit (dance/cheer team)" and "Fast Break Crew," which is a group of dancers that offer a "trick-filled" performance to get the fans out of their seat.

During a Clippers game, there is also an arena DJ that keeps the music pumping during all breaks in the action. Some of these breaks are also filled with the "Dizzy bat race" and the notable "Halfcourt Shot" (where a fan won tickets to see USC and UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament at Staples Center). Lastly, some other interesting promos, such as the fan cam, 3-point shootout, and t-shirt toss kept the excitement going.

During many games, the videoscreen will show a young fan cheering who proceeds to take off Clippers jersey after Clippers jersey that he is wearing in layers, which usually sends the crowd into an excited pace.

Despite the numerous suites, it does appear to be a family friendly venue when the Clippers are hosting a game. While this presents both pros and cons, it seems that it results in a mostly positive atmosphere as there seemed to be boisterous reaction for every Clippers' bucket.

Neighborhood    5

Over several years of stopping by the Staples Center, it is rather amazing how much the neighborhood has changed and developed. You hear of many development projects, but rarely do you see them come to fruition like this one. Sitting next to the convention center, the arena is part of the 4,000,000 square foot L.A. LIVE.

This area includes the Nokia plaza, which you'll often find filled with fans before or after the game with all sorts of newscasts and promotions going on. Not far away is the Nokia Theater which has hosted the ESPY Awards, American Idol, the Emmy Awards, and the MTV Music Video Awards.

Also nearby is the Grammy Museum, the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels, a 14-screen movie theater, and the ESPN Los Angeles broadcasting studio.

Just across the street from the arena, you'll find one of the few remaining ESPN Zone restaurants. Here, you'll find a lot of your typical pre and post game fare, but what sets this venue apart is the sports arena, or arcade for adults.

Not far away is the Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge. This spot is far from the grimy bowling lane you may have become accustomed to in the past. A rather upscale bowling alley, you'll find all of your favorite drinks here and comfort that few bowling alleys can offer.

Other notable spots nearby include Yard House (200+ beer options), Wolfgang Puck (contemporary bar and grill), Fleming's (aim for the best wine and food pairings), Rock N' Fish (try the Navy grog and oak grilled artichoke), Rivera Restaurant (Latin), Farm of Beverly Hills, Lawry's Carvery (known for its prime rib), Palm Restaurant (great seafood appetizers), or Katsuya (Japanese).

One of the Los Angeles food landmarks includes The Pantry or Café Pantry. Fans of all walks love this place because they can get hearty meals 24 hours a day. In fact, they could have asked for a meal at pretty much any time over the past 88 years with the exception of one day (I'll let you do your own research on why it was closed that one day). Give yourself some time to check this place out as the lines often spill outside of the building and around the block. Please note however that this is a cash-only establishment.

Of course if none of this suits you, keep in mind that you are in downtown LA. Just minutes away, you can probably get your hands on any type of food you fancy.

Fans    3

I can't say enough about my respect for Clippers fans that have stayed true over the years. While millions of fans have flocked to the other side of the hallway amidst the success of the other LA team, many have stuck with the Clippers despite the lack of banners bearing their nickname. Keep in mind that this franchise has had only two winning seasons since moving to Los Angeles. Talk about sticking it out through thick and thin! These fans have stuck by their team through many frustrating seasons and still bounce back year after year to support this team.

Ultimately, you'll find the fans are loyal because the organization is much more fan-centric than most. There are no high price tag courtside seats next to the bench and many more promotions to draw families to the game.

Of course I have to mention some of the more notable Clipper fans, Billy Crystal, Penny Marshall and Frankie Muniz. Pop singer Rihanna has also recently been spotted at many games.

Probably the fan most worth mentioning is the "Clipper Darrell." If you haven't heard about this fan of fans, I'd recommend checking out his site (http://clipperdarrell.com/) just to read some of the press on him. I had the fortunate opportunity of catching him for a hello and a photo at the ticket booth picking up his tickets on the very night I visited and the guy couldn't have been nicer. I became more impressed during the several games I attended where he would get up from his aisle seat and start a chant or get the crowd pumped up. His most notable chant is the "U-G-L-Y, you ain't…" that he shouts during opposing player free throws. My favorite story revolving around Clipper Darrell is that Mark Cuban offered to relocate him to Dallas and put him on the Mavericks payroll, but Darrell remained steadfast in his allegiance to the Clippers.

So while I've spent many sentences applauding the Clipper fans, the drawback is that there are very few of them. For some of the notable opponents that have been in town recently, upper level tickets could be had for under $5. At a recent game against one of the best teams in the NBA, many seats were empty. This was mind-boggling as LA is a town that loves basketball and the Clippers sport a very entertaining team, so I can only attribute these to a lack of a large, committed fan base.

Access    4

The Staples Center is located in the heart of downtown Los Angles, so it is accessible from most major freeways. The arena is easily accessible from the 405, 110, and 10 freeways.

There are roughly 3,300 parking spaces at Staples Center and approximately 16,000 within a five to ten minute walk. I've witnessed parking as low as $5, but you should expect to pay $10-$15 depending on the crowd. I have recently noticed that the prices on many of the lots rise closer to game time, so it may be worthwhile to get there early.

One of the beautiful things about the Staples Center is that the Pico Station is just a block from the arena and the 7th Street Station is just a five minute walk away. Visit the Metro's Trip Planner site for more details.

Once you arrive at the Staples Center, you will have to go through some metal detectors, so much sure you pack light. This is one of the few arenas to do this practice, but is well worth it for the additional safety. Also be sure to review the Staples Center camera policy before bringing your camera as many have been turned away.

The arena offers the 100 level, 200 level with some great seats, the three levels of suites, and the small upper level (300). Huge escalators will take will take you up and down from the upper levels and unfortunately the size and speed of these create a backlog of fans. What I find most interesting about these escalators is that they slowly pass the club level, allowing the fans to peer in and gain something to aspire to.

The restrooms are extremely spacious and look like they were constructed yesterday. These are kept in tip-top shape despite the millions of visitors that pass through them annually.

Return on Investment    4

With the Clippers, it is challenging to pinpoint specific pricepoints in regards to tickets. Other than when the Lakers are the visiting team, tickets are very accessible regardless of the level of competition. Even with all of the hype surrounding the 2011-2012 season, some seats can be had for as low as $5 and even lower level seats can be found for under $50. The Clippers also offer many great promotions in the form of multi-game packages and other promotions.

The food prices are elevated, but are similar to what you will find in most of downtown Los Angeles. The parking is in line with prices you will find in much smaller markets around the NBA at $10 to $15.

This is a great way to see some of the NBA's best players at a reasonable rate. The Clippers have several players on the roster that any NBA fan would love to see, so it would be unreasonable to pass on the Clippers if the opportunity presents itself.

Extras    4

Every time I visit the Staples Center, regardless of my seating location, I always journey up to the 300 level and take in the moment on the balcony behind the Staples Center sign. Up here, you'll find some of the most passionate fans talking about their gameday experience. There are plenty of tables and chairs to sit down with your favorite beverage before or during breaks in the game. If you go to the edge of the balcony, you have some great views of the plaza below, the Nokia plaza, and the Ritz Carlton hotel.

Fans should certainly take note of the 4HD scoreboard with vivid color and crystal clear images allowing fans in every section of the arena to know what's going on. Perhaps most impressive here is that there is no banner over the bottom of the scoreboard and fans in the lower section no longer have to cramp their neck to look up at the scoreboard. There are HD screens on the underside of the scoreboard so that fans and players can quickly take a glance up to see a replay or the score. I also liked the "pop-up" information shown on the scoreboard that informed us that their starting power forward was 4th in the NBA in rebounds, or that the team's backup guard listens to "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins prior to every game.

On the ground level, any fan can access a few of the additional items at the Staples Center. There is the Sports Museum at Staples Center, the Verizon Studio (get some free photos), Art of the Game Sports Art and Memorabilia Gallery, as well as an auction stand where you can bid on your favorite memorabilia.

Lastly, you can really get a feel for the importance of the Staples Center as you walk through the concourse and you see some of the images on walls throughout arena commemorating the big events that have been held there.

Final Thoughts

While most of LA shares the excitement surrounding this team, I hope that the newfound success doesn't quickly alienate the team from its fan-friendly identity. In years past, the team would market their games alongside many of LA's many other tourist options. Hopefully this will translate in the team saving marketing costs and holding ticket prices rather than gouging prices as the fan base begins to grow.

I've always felt attending a Clippers game was entertaining prior to the recent acquisitions, and obviously the new lineup has taken the experience to a whole new level. If visiting LA, be sure to give it a try as it's a vastly different experience from what basketball fans will see at a Lakers game.

Lastly, as I've stated in years past, I would like to see the Clippers take an extra few steps to personalize the Staples Center on their gamedays. Unfortunately, all of the seats at the top of the lower level are purple, and if these seats are not filled, they stick out like a sore thumb among the Clippers' red and blue colors. Secondly, if you glance up towards the lower 300 sections, you can't miss all of those glaring gold banners. I would recommend a more neutral color for the seats and perhaps dropping a large black curtain over all of the banners not representing the home team during games.

Follow Drew's travels through Southern California on Twitter @Big10Drew.

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Crowd Reviews

Highlight Clip

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

When you check into your hotel upon arriving in Los Angeles, you may notice a pamphlet for Clippers basketball among the attraction ideas. Unfortunately, the other team in Los Angeles seems to garner most of the basketball attention, so the Clippers try to appeal to more than just the typical fan. By no means would the Clippers only consider the Los Angeles area their fanbase, as the franchise began in Buffalo in 1970 and later moved to San Diego in 1978. Eventually the Clippers would land in their current city, albeit playing in the California Memorial Sport Arena.

Then in 1999, the Clippers would get a new home in the Staples Center, just a year after construction began on the privately financed $375 million arena. The Clippers would now have to share their new home with some other tenants in the Lakers, Sparks, and Kings.

When you first arrive to the Staples Center, you will quickly notice the large red "Rise Up" banner near the top of the building. This is how the Clippers personalize the building on the nights that they are the home team. It's a needed touch as the plaza below has 2 statues dedicated to the Lakers and one to the Kings. Beyond just sporting events, the arena keeps itself busy, hosting over 250 events and watching approximately 4 million visitors pass through the doors annually.

While hosting a gamut of events, the arena is most known for its ability to host up to 19,079 basketball fans. Two-thirds of the seats are lower-bowl seating, so most fans get an up-close view of the action. Unfortunately for the average fan, there are also 2,500 club seats and 160 luxury suites, so the space for the more inexpensive seats is limited.

As you walk into the arena, you begin to feel the Clipper environment. The fans are clad in red and blue colors. As you walk towards your seats through the black curtains, you'll see the court is now surrounded by red, and the paint is colored blue. The open wall space throughout the interior of the arena is covered by Clippers banners. The upper wall space in corners of the arena has projection Clippers logos, and the ridiculously impressive scoreboard is now flashing red and blue.

The public address announcer, David Courtney, will soon welcome you to Clipper basketball and you'll be in for an entirely different experience than what the other LA-based basketball team presents.

Clippers at Staples Center: Where If Happens

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 0

The Staples Center in the heart of downtown Los Angeles changed everything when it opened in 1999. Los Angeles, you see, is not a city as much as it is a large expanse of space made up of several cities all of which often refer to themselves as "L.A." Inglewood, Hawthorne, Orange are all most definitely not L.A., but when people who live there are asked where they are from they invariably say L.A. It's just easier to say that than to explain how you are about 30 minutes Southeast of Los Angeles.

Staples brought L.A. together. It represents a town center, a central meeting place for all of L.A. to gather. In addition to uniting a very diverse and displaced Los Angeles it also revitalized its downtown.

Downtown L.A. was a place everyone wanted to see when they traveled here but truthfully before Staples arrived there wasn't much to see. If you strayed too far from the well lit areas then you risked seeing much more than you would have ever hoped for. Frankly, before Staples, Downtown L.A. was ugly. You went there to get a bargain on clothes, jewelry or a pirated DVD and then you left. Quick.

Today downtown is a thriving area with Staples as its anchor. It's a place to go walk around, eat, shop and sure even watch a Clippers game.

Staples Center is no longer the new kid on the stadium block. Its bells and whistles have been matched by some and surpassed by others. It remains however an impressive venue to watch a basketball game. The Clippers are a basketball team; no really they are. They were in fact the only basketball team in L.A. that was rocking Staples in 2006. That was when the Clippers made a run in the NBA playoffs that saw them fall one game short of the Western Conference Finals. 2006 seems a long way away today however. In 2010 the Clippers are, well, not so good.

What will it be like watching a sub-par team in an above-par stadium? I am here to find out!

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Local Food & Drink

Camacho's Cantina  (map it!)

1111 South Figueroa St.

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 626-5554

http://www.camachos-cantina.com/

Pantry Cafe  (map it!)

877 S Figueroa St

Los Angeles, CA 90017

(213) 972-9279

http://www.pantrycafe.com/

Yard House  (map it!)

800 West Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 745-9273

http://www.yardhouse.com/default.aspx

Fleming's  (map it!)

800 W Olympic Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 745-9911

http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/locations/ca/los-angeles

Lawry’s Carvery  (map it!)

1011 S Figueroa St

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 222-2212

http://www.lawrysonline.com/

Palm Restaurant  (map it!)

1100 S Flower St

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 763-4600

http://www.thepalm.com/Los-Angeles-Downtown

Katsuya  (map it!)

6300 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90028

(323) 871-8777

http://www.sbe.com/katsuya

Rivera Restaurant  (map it!)

1050 S Flower St

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 749-1460

http://riverarestaurant.com/

Rock N’ Fish  (map it!)

800 W Olympic Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 748-4020

http://rocknfishlalive.com/

Local Entertainment

Nokia Plaza  (map it!)

777 Chick Hearn Court

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 763-6030

http://www.nokiatheatrelalive.com/content.php?section=about&page=lalive

Grammy Museum  (map it!)

800 W Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 765-6800

http://www.grammymuseum.org/

Lodging

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles  (map it!)

900 West Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 743-8800

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Default.htm

JW Marriott Los Angeles  (map it!)

900 West Olympic Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90015

(213) 765-8600

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/laxjw-jw-marriott-hotel-los-angeles-at-la-live/

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