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.
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".
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. A couple of laps around the venue and I found approximately 24 concession stands offering all sorts of fare.
I started off by checking out Camacho's Cantina, perfectly suitable for any team in Southern California. Here, they offered a carne asada or chicken burrito ($7.75), nacho chips with guacamole ($6.50), two soft tacos (carne asada or chicken for $7.75), the Camacho nachos ($8.50), a Camacho Bowl (choose a meat and up to five toppings for $9.50), or the tostada salad ($9.50).
At the stand known as "Big Dawgs," you'll find a variety of hot dogs that are better than you can find at any local ballpark. For $7.75, you can get the BBQ Dawg (all beef hot dog, classic potato salad, bbq sauce, pickle spears, and Tabasco red onions), Deli Dawg (polish sausage, pastrami, sauerkraut, grated swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and caraway salt), or the Junkyard Dawg (all beef hot dog, chorizo and potatoes, jalapeno jack cheese and sports peppers) among other options. Other side items at this stand include macaroni salad, cole slaw, or potato salad ($3.50), Peanuts ($5.25), and the popcorn. The popcorn options are just phenomenal as you can get the regular ($4.50 for the normal size or $6 for bottomless souvenir size), kettle corn ($5.25), caramel corn ($5.25), or the zebra corn (with dark and white chocolate for $5.25).
If neither of these has generated an interested, you could stop by the California Pizza Kitchen. Here you can get cheese or pepperoni pizza for $8.75 (or a BBQ chicken pizza for $9.75). They also offer their Chinese chicken salad for $8.75.
Another rather interesting stadium option is the sushi bar. You can get a variety of sushi plates ranging from $10.50 to $13.25 and pick up some fresh edamame on the side for $8.25.
Other options scattered throughout the arena include the patty melt ($8.75), turkey BLT ($8.75), veggie burger ($8.50), Italian grinder ($9.75), chicken tenders ($8.25), sloppy joe sliders ($8.75), chicken breast sandwich ($9), onion rings ($5.50), spicy chicken wings ($10 for a regular or $18.50 for the large bucket in BBQ, buffalo or teriyaki flavors), French dip ($10.25), pomodoro & carne de diavolo ($8.50), pasta alfredo ($8.50), "fork and knife" chili dog ($7.75), Turkey sandwich ($10.75), pastrami sandwich ($10.75), italian grinder ($9.75), potato salad, cole slaw, or macaroni salad ($3.50), Sensible portions ($2.75 veggie straws, miner's gold, potato straws), candy ($4), ice cream cup ($4.50), or a sorbet smoothie bar ($5.25).
The famous Wetzel's Pretzels also makes an appearance for $4.50 with non-fat, almond crunch, or cinnamon options. You can pick up a caramel dipping sauce for $1 as well.
For the younger fans, a Healthy Kids Taste Club is offered for $6.25. With this, they get a choice of an "Uncrustable PBJ" or kid's dog, carrots or sensible portions, and juice or small soda.
Of course, there is also a McDonald's, which offers food that you cannot find anywhere else in America. If you must have this hard-to-find-food, you are going to pay a premium for it. Forget your dollar menu and check out some of these prices: medium drink ($4.75), shake ($4), ICEE ($4.25), Dasani bottled water ($4.25), Coffee ($3.50), large french fry ($2.80), Salad ($5.50), quarter pounder with cheese ($4), crispy chicken ($5), 10-piece nugget ($4.80), parfait ($2.25), McFlurry ($4), or a sundae ($3). Oh, and if you want to make any one of your sandwiches a combo, add $5.75 to put your meal well above the $10 mark.
On the beverage side, you can get Coke products in the "regular" size for $3.75 or the larger size for $4.75. A rather reasonable deal is the bottomless soda for $6.50. Bottled water is $4 (thus cheaper than at the McDonald's stand) and vitamin water is $5. Not that you'd need it in Southern California, but coffee and hot chocolate is available for $3.25.
As for the older patrons, a regular domestic beer is priced at $8 (or a premium for $9.75) and a large domestic for $9.25 (or a premium for $11). Some of the beer options include Budweiser, Bud Light Lime, Blue Moon, Coors, Heineken, Stella, Corona, Amstel Light, Sierra Nevada, and Shock Top. There are also stands that offer large Coronas or Dos Equis for $13. Frozen margaritas and strawberry daiquiris can be had for $11.25, cocktails ($7.75, $8,75, $9.75 depending on the brand of liquor), and wine is $6.75 or $9, depending on the branding. There is even a gluten-free beer option for $7.
You'll find some more elaborate alcoholic options at the Harbor or Figueroa Bars found near each of the main entrances of the building.
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.
Once the lights dim, fans will see the players walking through a makeshift castle on their way to the ice. 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,
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), Flemings (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, La Bella Cucina (informal Italian), Lawry's Cavery (known for its prime rib), Palm Restaurant (great seafood appetizers), or Katsuya (Japanese).
One of the Los Angeles food landmarks includes 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.
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, the fans here seem to be in their seats for gametime.
The organist kept the fans really engaged throughout the night and most fans would sing along to the songs played after a goal. You would also hear the occasional chant prior to a faceoff.
My favorite thing about the Kings' fans was that they let the opposing fans know whose house they are in. You'll hear a lot of (Opponent) Sucks chants throughout the game.
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 Angles, so it is accessible from most major freeways. If you are an old San Diego Clipper fan coming from the south, take the 405N to the 110N and take the Pico Blvd exit. From the west, try the 10W to the 110 North, taking that same Pico Blvd exit. From the west, you'll take the 10E to the Hoover exit and from the North take the 101S to the 110S and take the Olympic Blvd exit.
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 low as $5, but you should expect to pay $10-$15 depending on the crowd. Luckily, the area has been vastly built up, so there aren't many rough areas around the arena any longer. Unfortunately tailgating is prohibited in all lots.
Once you arrive at the Staples Center, you will have to go through some metal detectors, so be sure that you pack light. This is one of the few arenas to do this, but it 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. As you pass through the detectors, you'll notice the immense size of the lobby, standing 85 feet high.
There are five open concourses in the arena and they are extremely clean and spacious. If you have to leave your seat, you can follow the action on one of the 1,200 televisions set up throughout the arena.
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. Eight of the suites were converted into the Hyde Lounge in 2009.
This is one arena that you 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. If you notice a sizable line, take a lap around the arena and the crowds will have likely subsided.
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.
Most lower level seats seem to run between $80 and $170, with the seats between the goals crossing the $100 mark. The upper seats go for between $30 and $60 depending on location and the caliber of the opponent. It is definitely one of the tougher tickets in town.
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.
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.
New during the 2010-11 season is the 4HD scoreboard above center court. Vivid color and crystal clear images allow 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.
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.
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.
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 the arena commemorating the big events that have been held there.
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.
One end of the arena has the Campbell Conference championship banner from the 92-93 season and the Smythe Division championship banner from the 90-91 season. Below are the five retired jerseys of Rogie Vachon (30), Marcel Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18), Wayne Gretzky (99), and Luc Robitaille (20). What I found rather odd about the retired numbers (photo above) is that the Robitaille banner is a bit shorter and wider than the rest. The different color schemes are understandable, but the different dimensions just make it look out of place.
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.
While I've never been inside, the arena also offers the Grand Reserve Club. Not your typical stadium club, this area offers both indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a wine cellar, and a humidor with 36 drawers for cigars!
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.
On December 27, 2003, the Staples Center became the venue for the largest crowd to ever witness a hockey game in the state of California when 18,743 came to view the Kings take on the in-state rival, the San Jose Sharks.
Similar to my comments in the LA Clippers review, I would really like to see the Staples Center more personalized to the Kings on their respective gamedays. While the purple seats and Gretzky statue are a nice symbol of the Kings, the exterior of the arena rarely screams "home of the Los Angeles Kings" and the interior also lacks a personal touch. While the Kings have a few banners of their own, if you look up towards the lower 300 sections, you can't miss all of those glaring gold banners. I would recommend dropping a large black curtain over all of the banners not representing the home team during games, and making the Kings logo/colors more of a focus there and some more Kings exposure throughout the concourse.
With so many entertainment options and such great weather, the ice hockey option seems like an odd choice to anyone that has not experienced a Kings game. Get out and get yourself one of the few remaining tickets available to experience one of the best entertainment options in the area.
Follow Drew's journeys through Southern California on twitter @Big10Drew.
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
777 Chick Hearn Court
Los Angeles, CA 90015
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015