Itinerant Fan

Staples Center

The mention of Staples Center doesn’t elicit nostalgia, nor does it come accompanied by a snappy nickname such as “World’s Most Famous Arena.” But it certainly is one of the busiest arenas in the U.S., the only one in the country that is home to three teams in the NBA and NHL, and annual home to such big events as the Grammys.

In other words, there’s almost always something big going on at Staples, and whenever there is, downtown Los Angeles is usually hopping along with it. The arena, operated by entertainment giant AEG, has seen a lot in its decade and a half of existence. NBA titles and Stanley Cups have been won within its walls, and All-Star Games in both leagues have been staged there.

The Lakers, Clippers and Kings remain hot tickets to this day, no matter what state each team is in, but as the venue matures it remains popular as ever and a great place to watch an event of any type.

For more on visiting the Los Angeles area, check out our Los Angeles city guide.

  •   The Approach

    Staples Center is a hard building to miss, even amid the tall buildings of downtown. The distinctive glass facade, sloped roof and purple hue are easily distinguishable in the night sky, and it occupies some prime real estate near the intersection of Interstates 10 and 110 (more commonly known locally as the Santa Monica and Harbor freeways, or simply “the 10” and “the 110”).

    With the L.A. Convention Center, the downtown core and more and more attractions popping up nearby, the area surrounding Staples is a popular place. And with popularity comes traffic — well, that’s true just about anywhere in the Southland, but especially downtown on the night of a game at Staples. So if you don’t want to miss tipoff or puck drop, leave early and bring your patience. The most popular approaches are the downtown exits off the 110 and northbound on Figueroa Street, which runs along the east side of the arena.

    An underrated, but ever-popular, approach is by using Metro, L.A.’s slowly expanding subway system. The Pico station, serving the Blue and Expo lines, is one block away from the arena, but the station platform can get uncomfortably crowded during big events. If you don’t mind the walk (and if you happen to be using the Red Line anyway), just exit the system at 7th Street/MetroCenter and walk four blocks south. You’ll still run into crowds, but at least that station is large enough to handle them.

    Popular parking spots are in the L.A. Live complex just north of the arena ($26 to park there), in the Convention Center structures and in private structures two or three blocks east — you’ll find the biggest bargains the farther east you go. You can pay for a parking spot at all of these locations ahead of time through a service called Parking Panda. Simply hop on their website, view all of the parking options in the area and pick one that works for you. They’ll email the parking pass and you can drive to the arena knowing exactly where you’re going to park, how much you’ll pay, and that a spot will be awaiting your arrival. Take a look at their offerings in the window below:

  •   The Build-Up

    A large number of sports fans spend their pregame time at L.A. Live, the complex with the huge outdoor TV screens on the other side of 11th Street/Chick Hearn Way from the arena (in fact, the pedestrian traffic is usually so large that 11th Street is closed to traffic in the hours before most games).

    Whether you’re there to eat, drink or just people-watch, there are plenty of restaurant and bar options, from casual (Tom’s Urban, Yard House) to upscale (Wolfgang Puck, Katsuya). There’s also a JW Marriott within this complex in which fans tend to congregate postgame (and, occasionally, players and other sports personalities as well). Your options are plentiful, but this being L.A., don’t expect any of them to be cheap.

    If you’re looking for a bargain or to keep it simple, try heading a few blocks north or east, where you’ll find more fast food or at least casual options. Oh, and if the event you’re attending happens to be in the daytime and you’re looking for breakfast beforehand, there’s an L.A. institution called The Pantry two blocks north on Figueroa that is VERY popular with the sports-attending crowd. The fare there defines “greasy spoon,” though.

  •   The Ambiance

    Perhaps befitting a venue in L.A., Staples Center is quite flashy on the outside. If it’s your first visit, be sure to visit “Star Plaza” on the arena’s north side, with its ever-growing collection of statues — Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky and Oscar de la Hoya, among others, are represented there, with more to come. However, note that this also tends to be the most popular entrance, meaning it can get jammed up as gametime draws closer.

    Once inside, there’s not a whole lot flashy about the arena. While Staples has added more adventurous concessions options over the years — Goose Island Brewery is a nice touch, and the Ludo Bird fried chicken stand is an upscale take on chicken tenders — the main eateries remain McDonald’s, Wetzel’s Pretzels and California Pizza Kitchen, which might make you wonder if you’re about to see a basketball game or waiting to catch a flight. At least with those options, the same menus are available on both the lower and upper concourses.

    If your seat is on the 300 (upper) level and it feels high compared to other arenas, you’re probably right. One of the more distinctive features of Staples Center is its three levels of luxury suites, but the trade-off is that the upper deck is pretty high. The good news is that the upper deck isn’t too far back — in fact, if you’re in the lower rows, it feels as though you’re right on top of the ice/court.

    Though the Lakers have been the marquee tenant of Staples Center since the arena opened, the Kings and Clippers have been making inroads into making the place their own as well. The Kings are farther along, having won two Stanley Cups in a three-year span and building on their loyal fan base, and they’ve made one corner of the building their own by hanging their championship banners and retired numbers from the rafters, away from the Lakers banners that dominate the wall on the other side. Meanwhile, the Clippers add their own touch by covering the Lakers banners with custom-made decorations for their games.

The Particulars

Home Teams
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Lakers

1111 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Year Opened

19,079 (basketball)
18,118 (hockey)

Upcoming Events
All times local
Calibash with Daddy Yankee and Ozuna and Yandel and Wisin
Saturday, January 19, 2019
8:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

Calibash with Daddy Yankee and Becky G and Ozuna and Nicky Jam
Sunday, January 20, 2019
8:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings
Monday, January 21, 2019
1:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
Monday, January 21, 2019
7:30 pm
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Elton John
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
8:00 pm
Get tickets at SeatGeek »

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