Staples Center gets a face-lift


When the Lakers and Clippers emerge from their respective locker rooms for their first home game of the season at Staples Center, they're likely to feel a little out of place. During the summer, the stark concrete hallways they've walked to the arena for the past 10 years were outfitted with stylish wood paneling that looks like it could have been appropriated from the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott under construction across the street.

"They took an area that was kind of drab and industrial and really turned it into something where you say, 'Wow.' It feels like you're in an upscale hotel or something," marvels Carl Lahr, the Clippers' senior vp marketing and sales.

The hallway remodel is just a small part of a large-scale renovation of the facility designed by architectural firm Rosetti that cost close to $20 million, according to Lee Zeidman, senior vp and GM, Staples Center and Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live.

"This is a $400 million-plus arena and our staff has done a fantastic job maintaining it over the years," Zeidman says. But with the final stage of L.A. Live due for completion early next year, "We felt we needed to really make a splash, so we've upgraded Staples Center to where it's going to look and feel almost brand new to the 4.5 million patrons who are coming through here this year."

For starters, all the televisions in the building have been replaced with more than 1,000 HD Panasonic flatscreen displays. On the concourses, the walls have been given a new purple and red paint job; the stands, bars and portables boast new blue graphics. The three suite levels have new carpeting, artwork and dark red paint, along with upgraded Ticketmaster scanning systems for suite entry. Visiting performers will find the dressing rooms and the green room completely remodeled.

The most significant changes are to the restaurant and bars. The San Manuel Club, located on Suite Level A, was given new flooring, lighting, walls, furniture and an additional 44 seats with a full view of the arena. Next door in the Lexus Club, the banquettes and wine cellar were removed to make way for a new rotunda entry and seating that will accommodate 48 more guests. On the main concourse, what was formally known as the Royal Room was remodeled to give it a more futuristic look and the barricade was removed, opening it to the general public.

The last piece of the puzzle is the Hyde Lounge, a $1.3 million joint venture with Sam Nazarian's nightlife/hotel/entertainment conglomerate SBE, modeled after their club of the same name on the Sunset Strip. Eight luxury suites on the arena's upper level were gutted to make space for the 175-person capacity room, which has been outfitted with high-end leather furniture, ledge seats overlooking the arena and other amenities designed to draw young, hip, affluent Angelenos. In the first year, the lounge will be open to courtside seat holders and suite owners. As part of the deal, AEG also sold a block of tickets to Lakers, Clippers and Kings games and other events to SBE to distribute to its best customers so they can come hang out at the club. In the second year, club memberships will go on sale to the general public.

"We're hoping that this concept takes off," Zeidman says. "We will introduce it to places like the 02 in London, the 02 World in Berlin and some of the other 50 facilities we have management deals with in the United States and throughout the world."