In the comments over the past week, we have had some suggestions of possible ideas on where the Sparks could play besides the Staples Center if the team doesn't relocate or fold. Some options were laid out by al reyes 86 in Day 5's Post and you can read them by clicking here.
Why Staples Center would be expensive to rent for a WNBA team owner, especially a smaller owner
But before I get to some other arenas where the Sparks could play at let's take a quick at why the Staples Center is likely very expensive to rent, and in particular for a smaller team owner like Paula Madison:
1. Location - Staples Center is located in downtown Los Angeles. It is also part of the L.A. Live Entertainment Complex which includes restaurants, theaters, and hotels. The Staples Center is also located near major bus and rail lines so it's very accessible.
Taking this further into other cities, New York and Washington also have their multipurpose arenas located in the middle of downtown and adjacent to major mass transit. That helps spawn development and with a sports team located in the middle of downtown, that minimizes bias toward one side of the metro area than another.
Since I'm from the DC area, I'll use a comparison on why a central location is important for an arenas location and with its sports teams. if the Verizon Center was located in Landover, Maryland in Prince George's County where the former Capital Centre was and where the Washington Redskins NFL team plays, there will be a lot fewer season ticket holders for their teams from Northern Virginia. Then if the Verizon Center was located next to Washington Dulles International Airport in Loudoun County, Virginia, that would potentially alienate fans who live in the eastern part of the DC area, like those who live in Prince George's County, Maryland. With the Verizon Center where it is, in the middle of Washington, DC, it gives the most ideal location for fans to attend games over the long run, at least in my opinion.
2. The facility is in high demand - Staples Center is home to the Kings NHL team, and the Lakers and Clippers NBA teams. That's three Big Four league teams playing in there, more than any other major facility in the US. Then there are concerts featuring major popular music stars and other events like a monster truck show or WWE wrestling held there on a regular basis, all of which will likely earn more revenue than the Sparks will.
3. The Staples Center is privately owned - The Staples Center is owned and operated by AEG, an arts and entertainment promoter and management company. This is in contrast to most multi-purpose sports arenas are owned by the local city and state governments and often operated by an NBA or NHL team's ownership if there are teams there. AEG's owner, Philip Anschutz, also owns the Kings (NHL team, not the NBA one), which plays there.
With a prime location, and the arena already in high usage, that allows AEG to charge tenants more to use the Staples Center. While I would feel differently if the Los Angeles government owned the arena, it's not. AEG is a business. It shouldn't have to lower lease rates to the Sparks just so they can stay there. There are concerts and other events that could earn more revenue than a WNBA team. And if you didn't know, AEG also developed the L.A. Live complex.
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So with all of these things said, let's take a look at six other arenas in Los Angeles and the area as to where the Sparks may want to play their home games. There are two candidates in three areas: major college basketball arenas in Los Angeles; other multipurpose arenas within 20 miles of the Staples Center; and multipurpose arenas located over 20 miles away from Staples Center. The 20 mile figure is arbitrary but like I noted above regarding a hypothetical scenario like if Verizon Center in Washington, DC were in other parts in the metro area instead, it could alienate fans who may have to drive farther to a game. So let's get to them now:
Major College Basketball Arenas in Los Angeles
Previously, on Sparks Watch
Previously, on Sparks Watch
1. Galen Center
Owner: University of Southern California
Distance from Staples Center according to Google Maps: 1.7 miles, 5 minutes with light traffic
Opened: 1965, Renovated in 2012
Distance from Staples Center: 14.3 miles, 26 minutes with light traffic
Pros: Major conference college basketball arenas are often state of the art buildings and are often as well equipped as an NBA arena. Perhaps the Sparks could even practice at USC or UCLA. With USC in particular, Galen Center is only about two miles away. Since these arenas have less events than Staples Center will, the chances of the Sparks being booted out for an NBA or NHL playoff game or a big time pop music artist like Taylor Swift having a concert there during the WNBA playoffs will be a lot less, if not zero. And lastly the lease should be considerably less.
Cons: The Sparks will look like an obvious oddball team by playing in an on-campus facility where it would clearly focus more on being home of the college team than the WNBA team.
Other multipurpose arenas in Los Angeles and nearby suburbs within 20 miles of Staples Center
1. The Forum presented by Chase, Inglewood
Owner: Madison Square Garden Company
Opened: 1966, Renovated in 2012
Distance from Staples Center: 10 miles, 19 minutes with light traffic
Owner: City of Los Angeles but USC operates it according to Wikipedia
Distance from Staples Center: 2.3 miles, 7 minutes with light traffic
Pros: Again, there should be a lower lease at these arenas than Staples, especially for the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena given that there are no professional sports teams playing there right now. And the Forum may charge lower rates than Staples in order to lure more performing artists there since it is set to re-open this year after major renovations. The Sparks actually played there in their first three seasons from 1997-1999.
Cons: The Forum is owned by the same owners of the New York Liberty even though I don't think that this alone would block them from moving there again. And the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena is an old facility. Since USC operates it and moved to the Galen Center already, that kind of makes it preferable to use the newer building regardless of the disadvantages it has.
Arenas in Long Beach and Anaheim
In case you missed it, more reads on Swish Appeal
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In case you missed it, more reads on Swish Appeal
These arenas are over 20 miles away from Staples Center, but they could be options for the Sparks as well.
1. Long Beach Arena, Long Beach
Owner: City of Long Beach
Distance from Staples Center: 24.1 miles, 30 minutes with light traffic
2. Honda Center, Anaheim
Owner: City of Anaheim
Capacity: 18,336 for basketball
Distance from Staples Center: 30.6 miles, 40 minutes with light traffic
Pros: For Long Beach Arena, there is no professional sports team playing there right now. And for the Honda Center, it is an NHL facility, as it is home to the Anaheim Ducks. Both arenas should likely have fewer dates, with Long Beach Arena having more dates to choose from obviously.
Cons: The biggest con is that these arenas are all over 20 miles away from Staples, and this could alienate season ticket holders who live north of Los Angeles, especially for weeknight games because of rush hour traffic. And moving the team here would likely be a deterrent to some prospective season ticket holders due to a long commute there if they live north of the Staples Center.
And for the Honda Center specifically, if the Sparks move there, they will have to adopt Anaheim in their name somewhere, which is a law. Then the Sparks may face some risk of getting booted out for a Ducks playoff game or a Justin Timberlake concert when they make the playoffs. And finally the lease at Honda Center will likely be the most expensive of all the candidates on this list.
So here are six possible venues where a new Sparks ownership group could have the team play at assuming that the group intends on keeping the team in the Los Angeles area. Do you think any one of them is better than the others? Or should the Sparks remain at Staples? Let us know in the comments below.
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