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Staples Center / An Update

Site, Costs and Expectations Are on the Rise

September 29, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Lakers and Kings each signed 25-year leases at the Staples Center. The Clippers' lease is for six years, but Andy Roeser, their executive vice president, said in April the club expects to be there forever. Although the Lakers and Clippers weren't involved in the arena negotiations, they have been consulted on the designs of the areas they will use.

Each team will have its own expansive locker room. Blueprints show a 946-square-foot room for the Kings, a 910-square-foot space for the Lakers and 901 for the Clippers. The arena will also have player lounges, which the Forum lacks. Separate locker rooms will be built for visiting NBA and NHL teams, a necessity for quickly moving equipment in and out of what will be the only arena to house three major professional teams whose seasons run concurrently.

"They've done a wonderful job, as far as trying to visualize every contingency, and they have involved us quite heavily," said Jerry West, the Lakers' executive vice president. "You leave an awful lot of memories, but there's a wonderful excitement generated in moving to a new building, not only among players but among fans, too. . . .

"I don't think we view ourselves as secondary tenants. And I don't think they view us as anything but equals because we view everyone as equally important in driving the success of the building."

The Clippers say they also feel involved.

"I think [the developers] are doing everything in their power to build the best building they can and on the timetable they established," Roeser said. "It's a very big undertaking and they really are doing everything they can to keep it moving. It's absolutely incredible, the issues and details they're balancing every day, and they're doing a good job at it."

The marketing of the arena is proceeding as briskly as the construction.

Of 160 suites, 103 have been sold, including all the top-of-the-line $300,000 models. The rest sell for $197,500 to $257,500. And in addition to Staples office supplies, which will pay $100 million over 20 years to have its name and logo on the arena, nine other major corporations--among them Pacific Bell, Toyota and Bank of America--will be announced in mid-October as "founding partners" that will provide as much as $50 million for display of their logos.

"I think we have an opportunity to build the Madison Square Garden of the 21st century, with all due respect to Madison Square Garden, because for me, that is the mecca . . . I believe this has been and will be the most important project ever built, period. If you look at what this arena is going to do to this city--here you are in the second-largest market in the United States and the newest facility in the city of Los Angeles is Dodger Stadium," said Lewieke, who did not include the Forum in Inglewood. "And so fans, the media, the teams are not used to what they're going to experience in this building.

"I hope. We'd better blow them away for $350 million. If we don't, we've made a big mistake. If we deliver, we're going to not only be a rallying point for the city, but we're going to usher in an air of excitement in downtown L.A."

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