Staples Center's First Employee Named President, Talks Bid to Lure NFL Draft to L.A.

Courtesy of Staples Center
Lee Zeidman

Newly promoted industry veteran Lee Zeidman also heads the Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live. NFL officials recently sized up his facilities during the BET Awards and ESPYs.

Lee Zeidman has been promoted to president of Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live, the 4-million-square-foot sports and entertainment downtown district in which the venues are located, it was announced Wednesday.

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One of the facility industry’s most respected leaders, Zeidman, 59, spends about 220 nights a year at Staples, the home of four pro sports franchises — the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Lakers, Clippers and Sparks — and the host of dozens of concerts and other events each year.

“I’m married to my profession,” Zeidman, the first-ever full-time Staples Center employee, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Zeidman, whose previous title was senior vp and GM of all three venues, oversees operations and the business development of each, including production, security, guest services, booking, box office, food and beverage, marketing and communications. 

He also leads AEG’s event partnership associations with the organizations that regularly partner with the venues, like the Recording Academy (for the Grammys), ESPN (the ESPYs), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (the Primetime Emmys return to the Nokia on Aug. 25), Dick Clark Productions (the American Music Awards) and 19 Entertainment (the American Idol season finales).

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Now Zeidman would like to add the NFL to that list. The league has announced that it will hold next year’s NFL Draft — which has taken place in New York every year since 1965 and at Radio City Music Hall since 2006 — in either Los Angeles or Chicago.

Zeidman told THR that a group of NFL officials took a walk-through around L.A. Live when the Nokia played host to the BET Awards on June 29 and the ESPYs on July 16. With its mix of venues and restaurants and the ability to close nearby streets and offer everything from a 100,000-square-foot deck to a 40,000-square-foot tent, the place has a lot to offer.

Asked to evaluate his NFL Draft chances, Zeidman said, “Everything we have read and have been told has been extremely positive.”

A native of Detroit who moved with his family to the L.A. area at age 9, Zeidman joined Staples in 1998 (a year before the building opened) and was an original member of the arena’s design and development team. Before that, he worked across town for a decade at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., serving as director of operations.

Zeidman also serves as a member of the L.A. Sports & Entertainment Commission’s advisory board.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4