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2004 NBA All-Star Game Coming to L.A.

June 08, 2002|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The 53rd NBA All-Star game is coming to Staples Center in 2004, which is good news for Los Angeles but not necessarily for Laker and Clipper fans.

While it was estimated by officials during Friday's announcement at Staples Center that the economic impact to the city from the game will exceed $50 million, very few tickets are expected to be available to the public.

Before this year's game in Philadelphia, 76er Chairman Ed Snider said playing host to the All-Star game is a "nightmare" because the league keeps most of the tickets for its corporate partners, making the team look bad to its fans.

"If I could give the game back, I would," Snider said at the time. "I can tell you this for sure: We will never apply for another All-Star [game]."

Snider said the league kept about 18,000 of the tickets available in the 20,444-seat First Union Center, leaving many of the 76ers' longtime season-ticket holders unable to get into the game. The 76ers have about 16,000 season-ticket holders.

The situation will be exacerbated at Staples Center, which is home to two NBA teams and seats 18,997 for basketball.

But that didn't stop Staples Center from lobbying for the game, which was last played in the Southland at the Forum in 1983.

"We've had a lot of great events in this building--the Grammys, NHL All-Star game this past year, [U.S.] Figure Skating Championships," Staples Center President Tim Leiweke said Friday. "For us, the one event that meant the most to us from day one was the event that was the hardest to get but the one that obviously we're pleased to announce today, the NBA All-Star game."

Still, Leiweke acknowledged that some fans would be unhappy.

"We're not out to create any unreasonable expectations that you have two season-ticket bases of 16,000-17,000 fans per team that are going to participate in getting tickets to the event," he said. "We're aware of that."

NBA Commissioner David Stern, on hand for the announcement, said the league reserves "large numbers of tickets" to accommodate its business partners, echoing comments made last winter by Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik.

"What we're going to do is try to come up with a program to deal with as many season-ticket holders as we possibly can," Stern said. "But in the form of the announcement and the way we're doing it, it is really designed to minimize expectations with respect to great tickets for season-ticket holders.

"We'd just be taking Eddie Snider's troubles and squaring them."

In January, after Snider made his comments, Granik said he sympathized about the ticket-supply problem. Nevertheless, he said, All-Star weekend is the league's best opportunity to host its business partners, even if that means local fans can't attend.

"This is our Super Bowl," Granik said. "It's our chance to entertain."

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