Staples Center – Los Angeles Lakers
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A Staple of the LA Experience
The Staples Center in Los Angeles hosts four professional sports teams. Of those four, the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA (National Basketball Association) is the most prominent tenant of the arena.
The Lakers have won 16 NBA championships from 1949 through 2010, one of just two teams who have the highest number of championships in the current day NBA. Their history begins in 1947 in Minneapolis. They were known as the Minneapolis Lakers from 1947 to 1960 and when they relocated to Los Angeles in 1960 they became the LA (Los Angeles) Lakers and were the first west coast NBA team.
When relocating to LA, the team first played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and in 1967 moved to the newly constructed Forum. When the Staples Center opened in 1999, the Lakers followed suit.
It is a decent venue to watch a basketball match but is way too expensive. The Lakers generally appear at the very bottom of the fan cost index for affordability.
Food & Beverage 4
The cuisine and drink choices at the Staples Center surpass many other major league sports arenas. Keep in mind, the prices also exceed most of the other venues as well.
Concession lines move quickly and only build up during halftime. More choices are available in the main concourse but the upper concourse still has plenty of fare on offer.
The main concourse offers Blake Pizza, B.S. Taqueria (Mexican), Dave’s Doghouse, a deli, Ludo Bird (chicken), Outtakes (salads, gluten free items, sandwiches, sushi), Tap House (beer and bratwurst), several bars as well as a McDonald’s, Wetzel Pretzels and a variety of other food and beverage choices.
The upstairs concourse has Smokehouse BBQ, Wetzel’s Pretzels, additional bars, a McDonald’s, Eats and All In. Near the Smokehouse an outdoor patio can be visited; it has a bar and a great view of LA Live (the downtown entertainment district in Los Angeles). I’d recommend visiting this patio as it captures all the activities happening in LA Live that game day/evening.
Several lounges and bars are available for a visiting fan. These include the DraftKings Fantasy Sports Bar & Lounge and the Black Crown Lounge. At the DraftKings Fantasy Bar, a Stone IPA is $12.25 and other sports bar food is available (nachos w/guacamole, garlics knots, sliders, dogs). Both places have plenty of TV screens to watch the game.
Coca-Cola is the soda provider at the Staples Center with a regular size starting at $6. A good variety of beers are found (the Tap House has a decent selection), and range from $8.50 – $12.25. Most food options will run from $7.50 – $15.
A remarkable variety of choices are available but expect to spend some hefty fees for food at the Staples Center.
It’s clear the Lakers are the top notch sports team at the Staples Center as the exterior is emblazoned with a Lakers banner and the interior poles are covered with the Lakers logo.
Three levels of seating are provided: the main concourse (lower level), the upper concourse, and the club level. Seats are cushioned, have cup holders, and average leg room. For those with a fear of heights, getting a seat in the upper level lower than row five or six or in the main concourse would be best. It gets pretty high in the third level.
Assisted Listening Devices (ALD) as well as real time captioning is available on a browser based mobile iPhone or Droid. A limited number of Droid phones are available at guest services. Accessible/disabled seating is available on all levels of Staples Center. Pre-purchasing designated parking when ordering accessible/disabled tickets is recommended.
It’s very dark in the seating area and that’s supposed to be a favorable fan experience called ‘Lights Out’ where the lights are only illuminated on the court. It is too dark to make it enjoyable. It makes fans sitting in the third level feel further from the court, hard to navigate the steps, and fans get blinded for a few second as the probe lights circulate over the seating area. The Lakers have been doing it successfully for years so this is just this fans’ perspective.
After the National Anthem and before the first tipoff, the Lakers provide a stunning, unique introduction. Curtains fall down from the center hung scoreboard and images of Lakers players and game action are silhouetted. It doesn’t last long so be sure to be in your seats just before the National Anthem to witness this feature.
The Lakers have many promotions throughout the season. On the game visited, a purple Lakers Christmas stocking was handed out. The Lakers are participating in a program called Trees for Threes. For each three-point basket the Lakers score at home, a tree will be planted in an LA community neighborhood.
The Staples Center is a part of an emerging LA Live entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. LA Live is bustling with energy and fans. It is continuing to grow as a new parking garage, retail area, and apartment complex are being constructed on east side of the Staples Center.
A block or two around the Staples Center before and after games is safe. As with any major metropolis city, just be aware of your surroundings. Individuals asking for money may be encountered. Stay within the LA Live entertainment district and you’ll be fine.
A plethora of restaurants are within a block or two of the Staples Center. Recommended choices include Yard House (sports bar – lots of craft beer choices), Toms Urban (weekend brunch is served), or Original Pantry Cafe. Almost 20 places to eat/drink are in and around the LA Live district; plenty from which to choose to dine.
Other activities near the Staples Center are the Grammy Museum, Regal LA Live movie theater, Lucky Strikes bowling alley, Microsoft Theater – home to the EMMY’s, ESPY’s, American Music Awards and American Idol Finals.
At the game of this review, Microsoft Square (just across from the Staples Center) was all lit up with Christmas decorations and trees and had ice skating available for fans.
Depending on other teams’ schedules, a fan may be able to see the Lakers, Clippers (NBA), and Kings (NHL) in one weekend at the Staples Center.
Within the LA Live district are the Ritz Carlton ($2500/night), JW Marriott ($259/night), Courtyard Los Angeles LA Live ($215/night) and Residence Inn Los Angeles LA Live ($239/night) hotels. A few blocks away (less than .5 miles) is The Milner Hotel ($169/night). I stayed there and it was just okay but way more affordable than the others.
Over the last few seasons, the Lakers have ranked nine or ten in total NBA fan attendance at a 99.1% – 99.7 % home game occupancy rate so the fans certainly support their team.
Lakers fans are respectable towards visiting fans, so no worries there. They cheer and boo appropriately as the game progresses. The more ardent fans tend to be in the upper level.
It is said Hollywood celebrities often visit the Lakers game. If that’s your thing be on the lookout for a superstar off the court.
Getting to the Staples Center is easy if using public transportation. The Pico Station is just one block from the venue; the 7th St Station is a five minute walk. I’d recommend using the Pico Station. Visit the Metro Trip Planner site to avoid traffic and parking fees when visiting the Lakers.
The Staples Center is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, so it is relatively close to four of the major freeways, the 405, 110, 10, and 101. Unfortunately this is Los Angeles and at any hour of the day, these freeways could significantly back up, so leave plenty of time when traveling to the arena.
Plenty of parking garages are available surrounding the LA Live entertainment district. The Staples Center recommends parking in Lot W, Gate B off of Chick Hearn Ct. Rates vary from $10 – $30. Private lots may be available for as low as $9.
If visiting from out of town, LAX Airport is the closest. One can get a $9 one-way bus ride via LA FlyAway to Union Station and then take the purple or red line to Pico Station (and the Staples Center).
Getting into the arena is okay. One walks through a metal detector before getting a ticket scanned. Bags less than 14″ x 14″ x 6″ are allowed and they do not have to be of the clear bag variety.
If planning on purchasing any merchandise, bring your own bag as LA has “gone green.” If forgotten, it’s 10 cents for a plastic bag; $2 for a reusable bag.
Return on Investment 3
The Lakers have consistently ranked second highest in fare (only below the New York Knicks) in the fan cost index (a ranking which lists what a family of four spends at a game). Expect to hand out plenty of moola when attending a game.
Ticket prices vary based on opponent and day of game and can range from $38 – $406 (when they play the Clippers on Christmas Day prices dramatically increase to $99 – $860). The Lakers do have a resale ticket exchange on their website where one may be able to obtain tickets at a lower rate. The lower priced tickets are the ones in the higher rows of the third level where fans with a fear of heights may panic.
Taking the metro to the game reduces the expense of parking. Eating before or after the game also reduces costs.
For a stadium journeyer or even a casual fan, a trip to see the Lakers is an investment and is worth it… once.
The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in NBA history and are a brand unto themselves.
With 16 national championships, the longest winning streak in NBA history, nine retired jersey numbers this franchise is honored with superstars and great moments.
The Star Plaza on the north side of the venue hosts more than life size statues of Lakers greats Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as well as late long time Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, behind a Laker desk with a chair for fans to sit down for a picture. Expected in the 2016-2017 season is the unveiling of a Shaquille O’Neal statue.
Nine retired Lakers numbers are proudly displayed on one of the upper corner walls in the arena.
The Staples Center is one of only two North American major professional sports venues to host two teams from the same league. Can you guess the other?
It’s way too expensive for the average sports fan to attend often. That said, there’s plenty of history to embrace when visiting the Lakers at the Staples Center.
Food and Drink Recommendations
777 Chick Hearn Court
Los Angeles, CA 90015
JW Marriott Los Angeles
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
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