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From The Archives: Staples Center: Who, What And Where, Past, Present And Future

COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: The following is a portion of an op-ed and analysis piece I wrote back on October 20, 1999, when Staples Center first opened. It was originally published on the Online Kingdom and is being re-published here as a response to what looked an awful lot like a paid infomercial advertising LA Live, the huge entertainment/retail complex directly across from Staples Center that was built on top of a couple of former Staples Center parking lots. This promo piece aired on Sunday night, January 11, 2009, following the UCLA vs. USC basketball game on FSN Prime Ticket.

During the program, Tim Leiweke, President/CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Kings, Staples Center and LA Live, said that through the building of LA Live (and Staples Center, since the land LA Live was built on was acquired and razed as part of the building of Staples Center), AEG turned a decaying part of Downtown Los Angeles that was filled with liquor stores and other run-down businesses into the thriving entertainment area that it is today.

Leiweke would not be wrong about that and I am not saying that AEG should be demonized for their development efforts in Downtown Los Angeles. But ever since the construction of Staples Center and throughout the creation of LA Live, there has been virtually no recognition of the sacrifices made by those who were forced out of the area.

This story was published during all the gushing, ooh-ing and ahh-ing about the opening of the then-brand new arena to provide some balance. It is being re-published now in that very same spirit.


MONTEREY PARK, CA — After 31 seasons at the Great Western Forum, the Los Angeles Kings will play their first-ever game on Wednesday at the brand-spanking new Staples Center, their 1999-2000 home opener against the Boston Bruins.

Before this potentially spectacular night could take place, it took a couple of years worth of negotiations, political wrangling, lots of wheeling and dealing, eighteen months of record-breaking construction by hundreds of workers and $375 million from owners Philip Anschutz and Ed Roski, Jr., along with various corporations such as Staples and Fox, to get the new arena built in Downtown Los Angeles next to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The new arena is a state-of-the-art facility, one where Kings fans (along with fans of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers) will be able enjoy the game more than at the aging Forum, along with more choices for food and refreshments, among all the other amenities never before seen here in the Los Angeles area.

In order to bring this new facility to Los Angeles sports fans, a lot of people had to make tremendous sacrifices. We have heard a lot about the nearly endless work put in by Staples Center officials as well as the long hours put in by construction workers who toiled until near midnight, six days a week, in order to complete construction in time for them to open the new building last weekend.

There have been numerous articles and stories in the local broadcast and print media about how incredible Staples Center is and how the new arena could be the catalyst to revitalizing the economy in Downtown Los Angeles. Most of these stories glow and gush about the new arena.

This article is very different. In this article, we will examine who and what was at the Staples Center site prior to construction. Read more of this post

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Lombardi’s Rebuilding Plan Making Unexpected Progress

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – PART 3: Frozen Royalty is back with Part 3 from an exclusive interview with Los Angeles Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi. In this, the third and final installment, Lombardi discusses the Kings’ player development and evaluation infrastructure and the progress made in his rebuilding plan. And in case you missed parts one and two, you can read them here. Part 1: Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi Excited About Defense and Part 2: Lombardi Talks About Goaltending, Top Defenseman Prospects.


LOS ANGELES — For long-time fans of the Los Angeles Kings, the wait has been interminable.

Aside from one run to the Stanley Cup Finals led by Wayne Gretzky in 1992-93, the Kings have been a big disappointment, qualifying for the playoffs just twenty-two times in their forty-plus seasons in the National Hockey League but advancing past the second round just once.

To be sure, that is a rather dismal record filled with mediocrity.

A big reason for that long history of mostly lousy hockey has been their propensity for trading away first round draft picks for way-over-the-hill NHL stars who gave the Kings next to nothing. Meanwhile, the traded away draft picks were used to select future NHL stars such as defenseman Raymond Bourque, to name just one out of way too many who went on to lead their teams to great success, including a number of Stanley Cup championships. Read more of this post

Los Angeles Kings: Rash Moves In Goal Not The Answer

COMMENTARY: It is time for fans of the Los Angeles Kings to take a deep breath, a step back and think before speaking.


LOS ANGELES — After a game in which he was embarrassed in the shootout and another in which he was anything but solid, fans of the Los Angeles Kings are calling for goaltender Jason LaBarbera’s head.

And that’s putting it mildly.

Indeed, after looking like a fish out of water in the shootout against the San Jose Sharks on December 15 (3-2 shootout loss) and looking rather shaky in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on December 17, a quick tour of the Kings-related web sites and message boards across the Internet reveals that LaBarbera just might be Public Enemy #1 among Kings fans. Read more of this post

It’s A Matter Of Trust For Dean Lombardi, LA Kings, AEG

As reported in the first installment of this series (see Lombardi Answers His Critics), the Los Angeles Kings and President/General Manager Dean Lombardi are under heavy fire from a vocal segment of their fan base who are furious about the direction of the team, but they also have those who support their rebuilding efforts.

In this, the second and final installment in the series, Frozen Royalty takes a close look at one of the root causes of the Kings’ disconnect with their fans.


EL SEGUNDO, CA — These days, one has to wonder if Los Angeles Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi has added “professional gambler” to his job title.

Indeed, given the serious gambling he has been doing, both with his roster and with his relations with Kings fans, it’s not hard to imagine Lombardi spending hours on end at a high-limit blackjack table at a Las Vegas strip casino.

But whether he is being dealt winning hands or losing ones is a debatable question.

For those who support the rebuilding efforts, Lombardi is clearly being dealt winning hands the majority of the time.

But for those who view his rebuilding efforts, his emphasis on youth, and his free agent acquisitions, among other actions, as a recipe for disaster, Lombardi is entering the third year of a losing streak that is so bad that he has not won a single hand while losing a fortune the size of the gross national product of United States. Read more of this post

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