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The Kings certainly are not top of mind when it comes to many of the iconic Southern California sports franchises, but they are quickly making headway with the locals.
In a region that has an average annual temperature above 70 degrees, it would seem challenging to build a following for a sport played on ice. The fans and the city have however embraced their Kings and make the Staples Center an intimidating place for any opponent to play.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
With so many dining options just outside of the arena, fans may not initially consider the offering inside Staples Center. Just like the Los Angeles food scene, the concessions inside offer lots of variety in its entrees.
As Mexican cuisine is enjoyed by many, Camacho's Cantina is often a popular stop. Street style tacos (three for $7.75), the famous Camacho's nacho (carne asada plus five toppings $9.50), tostada salad ($9.50), and burritos ($9) are all available here.
California Pizza Kitchen offers $10 personal pizzas, salads ($9.75), hummus ($9), spinach artichoke dip ($9), and penne pasta ($8.50).
The Whistle Dog is another concession that can quickly become crowded due to its popular offerings. The sandwich menu consists of turkey ($12), pastrami ($11.50), or the French dip ($12). Each sandwich has an option to add coleslaw on the sandwich for $1or as a side for $3.
Another rather interesting stadium option is the sushi bar. Fans can get a variety of sushi plates ranging from $10.50 to $16.25 and pick up some fresh edamame on the side for $8.50.
The famous Wetzel's Pretzels can be found throughout the arena for $5 with non-fat, almond crunch, or cinnamon options. You can pick up a caramel dipping sauce for $2 as well.
There is a McDonalds in the arena, offering many of its traditional options. Fans can expect to pay double the prices that they have come to expect from their favorite fast food.
Popcornopolis has its signature kettle, caramel, zebra, and jalapeno cheddar flavors priced at $6-$7 throughout the arena.
More of the common stadium cuisine is limited, yet can still be found. Snacks include peanuts ($6), pretzel ($4.75), popcorn (regular $4.50 or bottomless souvenir $6.75), super-nachos ($6.25), and candy ($4). Hot dogs include the Downtown dog ($6) and Skyscraper dog ($7).
The beverage menu includes soda (large $5.25, bottomless $7), coffee/hot chocolate ($3), vitamin water ($5), and bottled water ($4).
As for the beers, there are traditional drafts (regular $8.50, large $10), premium drafts (regular $10.25 and large $11.75). Many stands have the traditional mass-produced options, but a few around the concourse offer many of the micro-brew favorites. Alcoholic alternatives include frozen margaritas ($11), wine ($7 for house and $9 for premium), and a variety of cocktails. Most of the best cocktail options can be found at the Harbor or Figueroa Bars near each of the main entrances of the building.
Originally an expansion franchise in 1967, the Kings are now a mainstay of the NHL. Before calling the Staples Center home, the Kings had a few other stops throughout the greater Los Angeles area. The Kings played their first game under the roof of the Long Beach Arena, former home of the Long Beach 49ers. Other games during the team's first two months of existence were played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, near the Coliseum, until finally opening their permanent home at the Los Angeles Forum. For 32 years, the Kings would host the balance of the NHL there until moving to the Staples Center for the 1999-2000 season. On October 22, 1999 Los Angeles would officially welcome the NHL and the Kings to downtown.
The Staples Center was quickly built on an 18 month schedule at a cost of roughly $300 million. While the seating varies for other tenants such as the Lakers and Clippers, the hockey capacity is listed at 18,118.
Before fans even set foot on the terrazzo floors in the arena, a rather exciting vibe is generated from simply walking around the arena and taking in the sights at LA Live. For any given game, you'll find crowds surrounding the arena taking photos of the statues and trying to get their faces on many of the live tapings outside of the gates.
The intros are rather lengthy with all sorts of images being displayed on the ice, green laser beams illuminating the arena (which I found odd as green isn't a part of the Kings' color scheme), and a boisterous chant of "Go Kings Go" to start off the action.
Between breaks in the action, fans are likely to see Bailey the lion entertaining the fans with all sorts of contests on the ice. It seems he ensures that every promotional contest is rather exciting by handicapping the should-be winner and assisting those who would otherwise lose. I loved that the Kings assigned Bailey the #72 as a reference to the average temperature in the area.
After every King's goal, you'll hear the horn followed by Randy Newman's song "I Love LA." Soon after, you'll hear a "Hey" song that is similar to "Crowd Chant" by Jose Satriani.
With so many transplants in the Los Angeles area, you'll find many opposing fans originally from different regions attending the games. This leads to some great banter during the game and seems to engage the Kings fans even more. It creates an exciting atmosphere from the first drop of the puck.
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.
Part of the LA Live complex 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), Flemings (aim for the best wine and food pairings), Rock N' Fish (try the Navy grog and oak grilled artichoke), Rosa Mexicana, Farm of Beverly Hills, La Bella Cucina (informal Italian), Lawry's Cavery (known for its prime rib), Palm Restaurant (great seafood appetizers), or Katsuya (Japanese).
The notable ESPNzone that was a mainstay for so many years was closed in 2013 and is now replaced by a Smashburger, Live Basil Pizza, and Tom's Urban 24.
One of the Los Angeles food landmarks include The Pantry or Cafe 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.
Many traditional hockey fans will scoff at the Los Angeles based hockey following. This franchise has been maintained since 1967 and even has another team just 45 minutes away. Many accuse these fans of only being inspired after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, but even before such success, the Staples Center was a league leader in attendance.
The LA fans have had a great showing recently at the Staples Center, making a Kings game a tough ticket to come by. Of all LA-based professional sporting events, this is one venue that fans seem to be punctual; anxious for the first puck drop.
The organist keeps the fans really engaged throughout the night and most fans will sing along to the songs played after a goal. There are also the occasional chants prior to a faceoff.
I was also really pleased to see many of the fans sporting the colors of the minor league affiliate Ontario Reign, showing an interest in the Kings' future as well as supporting the current team.
The Staples Center is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, so it is accessible from most major freeways.
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.
There are roughly 3,300 parking spaces at Staples Center and approximately 16,000 privately owned spots within a five to ten minute walk. The spots at Staples can be prepaid via the arena box office and Ticketmaster. On some days, I've witnessed parking as low as $5, but you should expect to pay $15-$20 depending on the crowd.
Once you arrive at the Staples Center, fans have to pass through some metal detectors, so be sure to pack light. This is one of the few arenas to do this, but many consider it well worth the inconvenience for the additional safety. Also, fans should be sure to review the Staples Center camera policy before bringing your camera as many have been turned away.
There are many open concourses in the arena and they are extremely clean and spacious. If fans have to leave their seat, there are over 1,000 televisions throughout the arena that allow you to continue to follow the action.
The arena offers the 100 and 200 levels, both accessible via the street level. The three levels of suites, and the small upper level (300) are accessible via escalators that will take you up and down from the upper levels. Unfortunately the size and speed of these create a backlog for 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 club level offers 2,500 seats and 160 luxury suites. Fans will notice that most suites are on one side of the arena, allowing them all to have a great view when concerts are in town.
This is one arena that fans will not be sneaking down to the lower level seats. Security remains extremely tight in this regard. In fact, any time you are leaving your seat, be sure to have your stub ready because the usher will question you time and time again.
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.
The ticket prices in Los Angeles always seem to be a bit above the rest and the recent success of the Kings has not helped the cause.
A trip to see the Kings proves to be a great investment for both the seasoned hockey fan and the first-time viewer. I would definitely encourage those who do not enjoy watching hockey on television to try a game live, it's an undoubtedly better experience!
Depending on your tickets and pre/post game activities at LA Live, it's likely to cost over $100, but the excitement and memories you'll experience from a trip to the Staples Center are well worth the experience.
Regardless of seat location, all fans should travel to 300 level and take in a 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. At the edge of the balcony, fans are provided with great views of LA Live below.
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 fans can bid on your favorite memorabilia.
During the holidays, Kings fans can do some skating of their own on the makeshift ice rink in the center of LA Live. Possibly one of the most unique public skating rinks in all of America, fans can skate under all of the lights with the Staples Center in the background before or after the game.
Among the many bronze statues of Los Angeles greats in the Staples Center plaza, Wayne Gretzky stands closest to the doors. Prior to the game, you'll find many fans standing in line to get a photo with "The Great One."
One of the most notable games at the Staples Center occurred in 2001 during Game 4 of the playoffs. With the Kings down to the Red Wings by three goals after two periods, the home team rallied back to win the game. This game would come to be known as the "Frenzy on Figueroa" or the "Stunner at Staples."
On February 3, 2002, the Staples Center hosted its first NHL All-Star game.
In 2009, both the arena and the office supply company Staples came into a lifetime agreement for naming rights, making the first such deal for a major market arena.
The Kings now hang their banners from the rafters rather than mounted on the wall as the LA Lakers do. On one side is the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Championship banner as well as previous Conference and Division championship banners. On the other side are the five retired jerseys of Rogie Vachon (30), Marcel Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18), Wayne Gretzky (99), and Luc Robitaille (20).
The nightly light show outside of the Staples Center makes it an extremely recognizable landmark for all of Los Angeles. From miles away, fans can spot the lights atop the arena.
Staples Center was also the first arena in sports to become the permanent home of three professional sports teams. While the setting between a hockey game and basketball game are vastly different, the turnover rate to change one to another is rather impressive.
While hockey was previously an afterthought of the Los Angeles sporting experience, it is now becoming one of the tougher tickets to come by.
As the Clippers have recently taken steps to better-personalize the Staples Center on gameday, it would be nice to see the Kings do the same. Wayne Gretzkey has a statue in star plaza, but it is mostly prevalent with basketball icons. Yes, the Kings have some interior banners, but they are overshadowed by those of the basketball teams.
Ice may be the last thing on the minds of many when visiting Southern California, but be sure to make Kings' hockey part of your itinerary!
Follow Drew's journeys through Southern California on Twitter.
In 1967, a region known for its sandy beaches and year-round sunshine would be one of six that would be home to a new NHL franchise as the league began expanding.
As the team's permanent home was under construction, the Kings played their first game under the roof of the Long Beach Arena, former home of the Long Beach 49ers. Other games during the team's first two months of existence were played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, near the Coliseum, until finally opening their permanent home at the Los Angeles Forum. For 32 years, the Kings would host the balance of the NHL there until moving to the Staples Center for the 1999-2000 season. On October 22, 1999 Los Angeles would officially welcome the NHL to and the Kings to downtown.
The Staples Center was quickly built on an 18 month schedule at a cost of roughly $300 million. While the seating varies for other tenants such as the Lakers and Clippers , the hockey capacity is listed at 18,118.
The arena is certainly a sight to be seen. Located on the southwest corner of 11th and Figueroa streets, the LA skyline is just minutes from the arena. The concrete surrounding it has silica carbide in it to give it a little sparkle and remind fans that they are in the home of the stars. With its sloping roofline and spotlights illuminating both the arena and surrounding LA Live, the Kings' home cannot be missed.
Los Angeles California is known as a lot of things to a lot of people. From 1988 - 1996 the most famous hockey player in the world was a resident. That's when Wayne Gretzky played for the Kings. During that time, it became known as a Hockey City. The Los Angeles Kings were one of the hottest tickets in town when #99 skated for them.
Since the Great One was traded, the LA Kings fell off the sports map to many.
The Kings are back to winning and are getting back on the sports landscape in Los Angeles. They are doing it in the place they call home; that home is The Staples Center. It's located off the 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles.
1111 South Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
877 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90017
800 W Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
800 W. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015