"An Opportunity is never lost it is just found by someone else"
Authors note- In the interest of full disclosure, Let it be known that I previously worked for the City of Long Beach, California and Taught in the Long Beach Unified School District.
I also was a season ticket holder for a pro sports team that called the Long Beach Arena home from 1997 to 2007.
I also still referee high school basketball at Long Beach High Schools from time to time.
However, I currently have no affiliation with the City of Long Beach professional or otherwise and haven't had one for a few years now. However, my past history there probably gives me a unique perspective on the arena and the city.
There has been quite a bit of discussion this past week on the Sparks, Paula Madison, Joe Lacob, relocation by the Sparks to the Bay Area etc. For this post to work and make sense a few givens must be accepted as fact.
1) It is better for the WNBA and the Sparks to stay in Los Angeles with New Ownership or League Ownership.
2) The price of rent at Staples Center is too cost prohibitive and a new home Arena for the LA Sparks must be found.
3) That new home must be readily available and the Sparks would be the only sports tenant.
There I said it. Now hear me out before you take my car keys.
The LA Sparks are looking for a home arena for the 2014 season. Here are five reasons the new owners should consider the Long Beach Arena.
1) Arena Publicly owned not privately owned so price negotiable and the Sparks would be the only sports tenant.
The LA Kings (NHL) ,The Long Beach Ice Dogs (Hockey 1997-2007) and Long Beach State Basketball under Jerry Tarkanian have all called the Long Beach Arena Home.
Part of the reason rents are so high at Staples Center is that it is a venue that is constantly in demand.
The Long Beach Arena has very low demand and open dates so price for rents can be easily negotiated especially if a longer lease is signed. If I remember correctly the Ice Dogs were on a six year deal from 1997 until 2002. At very reasonable rates I was told. How else could minor league hockey survive in a beach city for ten years. It wasn't their overflow attendance every night I can assure you that.
I can also assure you it will be much easier to deal with a city government that would be begging for your business since you would be there only sports tenant. Not to mention the Arena has 13,500 seats. Perfect for the Sparks who are averaging 10,000 per game.
As opposed to a private entity that looks to make profits no matter who is in the building. I'm not against capitalism just stating an obvious fact.
2) Location is still in LA County and Freeway close
Yes I know it is not LA City , but neither was the Forum in Inglewood all those years the LA Lakers were running Showtime and winning NBA Championships.Take the 710 FWY til it ends in Long Beach at Shoreline Drive the Arena is on your left. There is also a metro rail that ends in downtown Long Beach if you are so inclined.
There also appears to be some concern that Fans North of Staples Center would be discouraged from buying season tickets. Possibly, but fans in southeast LA County and North Orange County might buy them! There are other residents of LA County other than those that live in the San Fernando Valley.
3) The Arena is ready to move in.......... at least for business operations
As a Long Beach Ice Dogs season ticket holder I had to renew my tickets every year at the the Ice Dogs offices which were on site! For all you kids out there in 1998 you couldn't do stuff online. (Stop it Al!! That's crazy talk!)
I went to the arena, went upstairs to the Arena offices and picked out my seats for the coming season.
The sales/business staff and the Hockey Operations staff had offices there. Convenient and cheap just what Paula Madison could have used to keep her franchise afloat.(Side note the team had to practice off site because ice time was still expensive at the arena. However, shoot around or practice time for basketball probably would not be.)
Yes some upgrades would probably have to be made, since regular basketball games haven't been played there in years. However, those would be cosmetic, my older friends tell me that the arena has great sight lines for Basketball. It was a rocking house in the 1970's and can be again.
4) The City of Long Beach has really spent a lot of money on the Shoreline Village Area near Downtown where the Arena sits over the past ten years. As well as many new businesses that weren't there fifteen years ago.
New Parking structures around the arena. Makes parking less of a problem.
The Shoreline has a plethora of eating establishments so fans can enjoy dinner before a game, as well as drinking and dancing spots for after the game.
Hotels, comedy clubs, why are these important?
Helps the new owners get sponsorship dollars from local proprietors. Make a half court shot get a free weekend at the Long Beach Hilton, or a free trip out of Long Beach Airport on Jet Blue or American Airlines anywhere they fly.
Not to mention the Port of Long Beach is one mile away. Anyone ever hear of a port not having money?
5) Hockey at the Beach was always a long shot, Hoops at the Beach a can't miss!
Yes Long Beach and its adjoining cities are hoops crazy.
I have taught and coached in Long Beach and officiated Basketball in Long Beach and it loves its basketball!
Some of the girls high school teams have been nationally ranked, Long Beach City College Basketball was ranked number one in the state last week, not to mention i just turned off the Long Beach State game which was being carried on ESPN/or Fox to write this post.
The Long Beach Arena will never be as glitzy as Staples Center or the Honda Center.
It will never be as centrally located to LA City as the Galen Center, or the Forum.
But for the Sparks to further build their brand, and for the WNBA to continue to grow...
does it really need to be?
Next Post - Saturday Why The Honda Center makes sense...