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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker Arena – Los Angeles Clippers

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00 Arena 1111 South Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90015

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 19,060


L.A. Our Way

The franchise that is now known as the Los Angeles Clippers began existence in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves. The team spent eight seasons in upstate New York, where they played third fiddle at the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium behind the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres and the Canisius Golden Griffins basketball team. Canisius, who saw the Braves as a threat to their success, would regularly schedule the best dates at The Aud, effectively locking the Braves out. The team enjoyed little success in Buffalo, making the playoffs three times. After a failed attempt to sell the team and relocate to South Florida, owner John Y. Brown transferred ownership of his team with Irv Levin, owner of the Boston Celtics, so that Levin could move the Braves to southern California.

In 1978 the team moved to San Diego and rebranded as the Clippers. The team failed to make the playoffs in any of their six seasons in San Diego. In 1984 new team owner Donald Sterling moved the team north to Los Angeles without league permission. The team continued to struggle in their new home, racking up a succession of losing seasons and making more news with off-the-court incompetence than for anything done on the court.

In the late 1990s rumors were rampant that the Clippers were looking for a new home to replace the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where attendance had fallen to under 10,000 fans per game. Most reports had the team headed to Anaheim and the Honda Center. However, in 1999 the Staples Center was built, and the Clippers joined the Lakers and Kings as tenants in the new building, located two miles from their previous home at the LA Sports Arena. The Clippers have struggled as the third tenant in the building but have received more favorable scheduling and lease terms in recent years as their popularity has grown.

The 2010s have been kinder to the Clippers, as the team qualified for the playoffs seven times in the decade, matching the number of playoff seasons over the franchise’s first 41 seasons. Still, the team has yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs.

There is much to be excited about for the Clippers’ 50th season, as the team signed Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George. The team is considered among the top contenders for the NBA title. The Clippers have not disappointed thus far in the 2019-20 season, staying near the top of the standings and competing, finally, with the Lakers for top billing in southern California.

Note: The Staples Center name changed to Arena in Dec, 2021.

Food & Beverage 4

The Staples Center does not disappoint in terms of concessions, offering a wide variety of options for the hungry Clipper fan. Among the offerings are Wahoo’s Tacos, LuDo Bird, Dave’s Doghouse, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Blaze Pizza and Salt & Char Burgers. Mixed in with traditional arena fare are uniquely southern California options such as fish tacos, ahi tuna poke nachos and sushi. Several stands offer kosher, vegetarian and vegan options. A complete listing of concession options at the Staples Center can be found here.

Coca Cola products are featured at the Staples Center. In addition to national beer brands, local craft brews from Golden Road and Goose Island Breweries are featured. The Figueroa Bar on the 100-level concourse offers a wide variety of draught beer, signature cocktails and specialty drinks.

Atmosphere 4

Visiting fans who come to the Staples Center expecting a Hollywood-style extravagant gameday presentation might be disappointed by the fairly standard atmosphere at a Clippers game. All the typical gameday elements are here, from the dance squad, an energetic PA announcer, mascot and DJ who keeps the building full of noise both during the game and play stoppages.

There are fan contests, giveaways, social media promotions and t-shirt tosses throughout the game to keep the casual fan interested. Clippers fans really start to get excited during the fourth quarter, as the team has partnered with Chick-Fil-A to give away a free chicken sandwich if an opposing player missed both free throws.

One thing that is very apparent when attending a Clippers game is the fact that they are the third tenant in this building. The statues at the entrances, the murals on the walls and the banners hanging from the rafters all belong to the Lakers and Kings. Hopefully with some success, the Clippers can start to create a presence in the building.

Neighborhood 5

Los Angeles is one of the top cities in the nation for tourists, with a seemingly endless list of attractions, things to do and see. In the immediate area of the Staples Center, LA Live is located right across the street from the arena. Located here are several restaurants, hotels and attractions, including the Grammy Museum and the Microsoft Theater. During the holiday season a skating rink is set up in the Xbox Plaza here. On the other side of the Staples Center is the Los Angeles Convention Center.

For visiting fans looking for a place to stay while in town for a Clippers game, there are numerous choices within walking distance of the arena.

Fans 5

In other parts of the country fans often derisively refer to the late to arrive and early to leave fans of Los Angeles teams. While there is some truth to this reputation, not all fans at the Staples Center fit this description. The Clippers have marketed themselves to the working-class basketball fans of southern California, and the crowd in attendance reflects these efforts. You are more likely to see families and to hear multiple languages spoken at a Clippers game than at a Lakers game.

Thus far in the 2019-20 season the Clippers are actually outdrawing their cross-town rivals. The Clippers are operating at 100 percent capacity so as of the writing of this review in early February, placing them solidly in the top ten in the NBA.

Access 4

First things first, the mythical Los Angeles traffic is real. No matter where you may be coming from, give yourself some extra time to arrive at the Staples Center. Located adjacent to the Los Angeles Convention Center and the Interstate 10/Route 110 interchange, the facility is fairly easy to get to, traffic notwithstanding.

Staples Center’s location downtown ensures that there is plenty of parking nearby. There are over 10,000 parking spots within a ten-minute walk of the arena. For fans looking to avoid the hassle of LA traffic, public transportation is convenient to the area. The Metro Rail Pico Station is a short walk from the facility and several Metro Bus lines have stops near the Staples Center. Complete driving, parking and public transportation information can be found here.

There are four main entrances to the Staples Center, all of which empty onto the spacious main concourse. Escalators lead up to the club level and upper concourse. Restrooms are plentiful, clean and spacious.

Vomitories lead fans from the main concourse to the seating bowl. Fans in the 100 level walk down to their seats, fans in the 200 level walk up. On the 300 level, fans enter near the bottom of their sections. As is the case in many arenas, the seats in the upper level are very tight. If you are of a large frame, be prepared to have to squeeze into these very narrow seats with poorly positioned cup holders. Even though some of the upper level seats are far from the action, all seats have good views of the court.

Return on Investment 4

The Clippers present themselves as a more affordable option to the Lakers. Still, this is Los Angeles, which means that you may have to pay to get the seats you want. The Clippers use variable pricing, meaning weekend and marquee games will cost more than weekday games. On average, upper level seats begin at $45 while lower level seats starting at $117. There are bargains to be found on the secondary market. In fact, when Stadium Journey visited the Staples Center on a weekday game against Sacramento, we were able to secure seats in the lower part of the upper deck for seven dollars.

Parking in the lots and garages around the Staples Center generally range in price from $15-25. Concession prices are on the high side, but not out of line with other major facilities across the NBA.

A great way to save some money on getting to the Staples Center as well as to avoid the hassle of LA traffic is to use the Metro to get to the arena. A one-way fare is just $1.75, with a day pass priced at seven dollars.

Extras 2

An extra point is awarded for the great gameday and other arena staff. The team is clearly trying to present themselves as an alternative to the traditional, stuffy Lakers. Staff members have fun with the gameday presentation, with lots of giveaways and interaction with the fans.

An additional extra point is awarded for the Buffalo Braves merchandise available in the Pro Shop.

Final Thoughts

It’s tough sledding when you’re the third tenant in a facility. Despite the fact that the Clippers are finally achieving some success and are gaining a foothold in the crowded Los Angeles basketball market, the Staples Center does not feel like home to this star-crossed franchise. While they can’t possibly compete with the Lakers in terms of history and tradition, at least for this year, the Clippers are on equal footing with their cross-town rivals on the court.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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