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Parking at Staples Could Be a Juggling Act

Cirque du Soleil has set up tent in a prime parking lot for a run that could extend into November. Officials say sports fans won't be inconvenienced.

September 06, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

Parking at Staples Center this fall could be a circus.

The Montreal-based, avant-garde acrobatics troupe Cirque du Soleil has pitched its 66-foot high, blue-and-yellow tent in a prime parking lot across 11th Street from the downtown arena, where it will stay for a six-nights-a-week run starting Friday and expected to extend into late November.

Show dates for the Los Angeles premiere of a production entitled "Varekai" will conflict with more than two dozen Laker, Clipper and King dates, the WTA Championships women's tennis tournament Nov. 5-10, a boxing card Oct. 4, and other Staples Center events.

Arena executives say parking will not be greatly disrupted by the show, which is expected to draw capacity crowds of 2,600 under the Grand Chapiteau in Lot 2 for nightly shows Tuesday and Wednesday and twice-daily shows Thursday-Sunday.

Most of Lot 2, at the corner of 11th and Georgia streets, usually is utilized by arena workers and media members, with only a small portion allocated for season ticket-holders, Staples Center spokesman Michael Roth said.

"We've been here four years and we certainly have studied the traffic patterns," Roth said. "We never would have entered into a deal that would have a great impact on our season ticket-holders and fans, who will be coming here long after the tent comes down....

"We have sufficient parking that any relocations from Lot 2 are not going to impact the normal routine."

NBA and NHL fans who had parked in Lot 2, Roth said, will be relocated to lots closer to the arena, and the media will be moved to the other side of the building, a little farther away. Arena workers, relocated to a lot four blocks away, will be shuttled between their cars and Staples Center.

Fans attending the Cirque du Soleil production will be directed to a nearby Convention Center lot off Cherry Street that is not generally used for Staples Center events, Roth said. And the start times for "Varekai" will not directly conflict with games or other events at the arena.

"There are about 300,000 people that come downtown every day," Roth said. "The streets can clearly accommodate an extra 2,600 people."

Whether or not sports fans will have to jump through hoops searching for parking spaces at Staples Center, however, won't really be known before Sept. 18, when the Kings play the Mighty Ducks in an exhibition game at 7:30 p.m., sandwiched between performances of "Varekai" at 4 and 8.

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