Staples officials warn of ‘perfect storm'
Staples officials warn of 'perfect storm'
LOS ANGELES – Large crowds are nothing new to Staples Center. NBA Finals, the Democratic Convention, the Grammys, Bruce Springsteen. But what is set to occur this weekend at the downtown Los Angeles arena is wholly unprecedented.
A combination of six playoff basketball and hockey games will be played over four days, capped by the finish of the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race, which will end at the intersection of Figueroa Street and Chick Hearn Court.
An estimated 250,000 people are expected to attend the games and race.
"I've called this the perfect storm, but I'm just hoping this doesn't become a tsunami effect," said Staples Center Senior Vice President and General Manager Lee Zeidman.
After a run of postseason success, all three Staples Center tenants – Lakers, Clippers and NHL Kings – will combined for the busiest weekend in the 13-year history of the arena.
The "storm" was to start Thursday with Game 3 of the Kings' Western Conference final against the Phoenix Coyotes and will be followed by Game 3 of the Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder series.
As soon as the final buzzer sounds Friday night, arena crews will begin converting the arena for the Clippers' Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Once that game is over, crews will begin taking down the Clippers' signage and switching the court over to the Lakers' purple-and-gold court for their Game 4 at 7:30 p.m.
The disaster could strike Sunday, when the Kings are set to start at 12:30 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. tipoff for the Clippers' Game 4. Should the Kings and Coyotes go to even one overtime, it would push back the start of the Clippers game, forcing 20,000 fans to wait an hour or longer outside and the NBA stars to sit in their locker rooms for an undetermined length of time.
In the regular season, NHL overtime games are decided by one five-minute, sudden-death period and then, if the score is still tied, to a shootout. In the postseason, teams play as many overtimes it takes until a team scores.
Once the game is over, crews quickly will begin converting Staples Center into a basketball arena.
"There's nothing we can do at this point except hope for the best," Zeidman said. "We've done 127 conversions in the 13-year history of Staples and 44 have been hockey to basketball."
Zeidman said scheduling was dictated by the NBA and NHL and their television broadcast partners.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would do a doubleheader in the playoffs with a hockey game and a basketball game," he said.
In addition to laying the Clippers court over the ice and configuring the seats, crews also must clean the suites, stands and restrooms and re-stock the concessions before allowing any fans through the doors.
Arena officials and the LAPD are urging fans of all three teams to "come early and stay late" and take public transportation in order to avoid traffic congestion and the street closures caused by the Tour of California.
The 750-mile bike race is expected to finish at noon in front of Staples Center and Kings' fans are being asked to come early and park north of the arena to avoid the cyclists.
Street closures along the bicycle circuit will begin at 7 a.m., with thousands expected to participate in a free biking event along the course before Amgen riders enter starting at 10:30 a.m.
There will be free shuttles and coffee and donuts in the arena from 9 a.m-10 a.m. for those early arrivals.
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