Staples Center Prepares For "Frantic" 72 Hours Of Kings, Lakers, Clippers Playoff GamesPublished May 17, 2012
With home games scheduled for the NHL Kings, the Lakers and the Clippers, L.A. is "gearing up for one of the most jam-packed weekends in local sports history," according to Abram & Lin of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Staples Center Senior VP & GM Lee Zeidman said, "In my 25 years, this is the biggest thing I've ever been a part of." An estimated 120,000 ticket holders are "expected downtown over the four days of sports events" beginning today (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/17). In N.Y., Howard Beck writes as Staples Center starting today will host six playoff games in four days, it will be a “frantic and fascinating 72 hours." The building will play host to two Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final games between the Kings and the Coyotes, and two games each in the Thunder-Lakers and Spurs-Clippers NBA Western Conference Semifinals series. Staples Center will host two games both Saturday and Sunday. In addition, the AMGEN Tour of California will end Sunday, and the race's finish line is marked at L.A. Live. Zeidman said the schedule is “unprecedented." He added, "It could never be duplicated anywhere else.” Zeidman said that Staples Center will “bring in 2,200 to 2,500 employees this weekend, up from the usual 1,500 to 1,700 needed for an event.” Beck notes the "cause for the most stress was the NBA and NHL's decision to schedule the Kings game first on Sunday.” If Sunday's Coyotes-Kings game goes into overtime, or multiple overtimes, “it could create havoc for the Clippers and the Spurs” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17). Zeidman said of converting the floor at Staples Center, "From basketball to basketball, we can do it in about an hour-and-fifteen minutes. When you go from hockey to basketball or basketball to hockey, it's just a little bit over two hours. But what people don't realize is that, while we can convert the building to get the playing surfaces ready, this is a million square feet. You've got to clean that. You've got 168 suites that you've got to restock and you've got 53 concession stands that you have to have fully ready to go for the next 20,000 people coming into the building." He added, "What my big concern is -- is if that hockey game runs late ... we could have 20,000 people leaving the arena from the hockey game with another 20,000 people coming for the Clipper game standing outside the doors" ("All Things Considered," NPR, 5/15).
WORST CASE SCENARIO: In L.A. Diane Pucin notes organizers are "trying to plan for everything, including the worst,” which on Sunday “would be extra hockey periods.” The potential for overtime for Coyotes-Kings is “the scenario that has insiders at Staples and both leagues privately conceding it is possible the Clippers and Spurs might not play until Monday.” Sources said that a contingency plan option is "already in the works." On Sunday, it would be “easier for Staples Center if basketball was played before hockey because the delays caused by overtime periods are not nearly as lengthy.” However, NBC, which holds the TV rights to the NHL playoffs, “was not willing to change its plans even when it became apparent there was a conflict.” NBC Sports President of Programming Jon Miller said that the network “had no interest in switching spots with TNT because it could ill afford to lose lucrative prime-time programming in May, a sweeps month for ratings.” Miller: “It’s not anyone’s fault per se that there is one building with three successful tenants. But the (NHL) West was always set for (noon) Sunday” (L.A. TIMES, 5/17).
HISTORY REPEATING? USA TODAY’s Norwood & Brady write under the header, “Kings’ Quest Winning Over L.A.” In L.A., “where fans have been filled with angst over the Lakers’ playoff struggles while keeping one eye on the Clippers’ postseason, the NHL’s red-hot Kings have been something of an afterthought.” But with the Lakers and Clippers “coming off blowout losses in the opening games of the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals, a shift might be underway,” as the Kings lead the Coyotes 2-0 in the NHL Western Conference Final. Norwood & Brady compare the scenario to ’93, when Wayne Gretzky "was the glamorous focal point of the only Kings team to reach the Stanley Cup final.” In '93 the Lakers and Clippers were eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs, while the Kings and "their drama-filled run had the city to themselves for a full month.” Kings President of Business Operations, and a member of the ’93 Kings team, Luc Robitaille said, “We still have a ways to go, but what is happening in the L.A. marketplace reminds me of our amazing run back in 1993 but in an even bigger way” (USA TODAY, 5/17).
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