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The Forum
The Fabulous Forum, Los Angeles Forum, L.A. Forum
The Forum
Former names The Forum (1967-1988)
Great Western Forum (1988-2003)
Location 3900 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, California 90305
Coordinates 33°57′29″N 118°20′31″W / 33.95806°N 118.34194°W / 33.95806; -118.34194Coordinates: 33°57′29″N 118°20′31″W / 33.95806°N 118.34194°W / 33.95806; -118.34194
Broke ground 1965
Opened 1967
Owner Faithful Central Bible Church, Forum Enterprises, Inc.
Operator SMG
Construction cost $16 million USD
Architect Charles Luckman Associates
Capacity Basketball: 17,505
Hockey: 16,005
Concerts: 18,000
Tenants
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) (1967-1999)
Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA) (1997-2000)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL) (1967-1999)
Los Angeles Lazers (MISL) (1982-1989)
Los Angeles United (CISL) (1993)
Los Angeles Stars (ABA) (2000-2001)
1984 Summer Olympics (basketball)
Los Angeles Blades (RHI) (1993-1997)
John Denver performing at the Forum in 1978.

The Forum, known for a 15-year period as the Great Western Forum, is an indoor arena in Inglewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The Forum is owned by the Faithful Central Bible Church, which occasionally uses it for church services, in addition to making the building available for sporting events, concerts and other events.

The Forum achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League from 1967 until 1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center. Along with Madison Square Garden, it was one of the most well-known indoor sports venues in the world during this time. The building was also the home of the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until they too moved to Staples Center in 2001.

The Forum was the site of the 1972 and 1983 NBA All-Star Games, the 1981 NHL All-Star Game, and hosted the Big West Conference men's basketball tournament from 1983–1988 and also the 1989 Pacific-10 Conference men's basketball tournament.

Throughout its history, the venue has also hosted numerous musical concerts by accomplished and popular recording artists.

Contents

History

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1960s/70s

The "Fabulous" Forum, as it would become colloquially known to locals[1], was constructed by Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Lakers and founding owner of the Kings, in 1967. The circular, $16 million structure was designed by renowned Los Angeles architect Charles Luckman and was intended to evoke the Roman Forum. The arena seats 17,505 for basketball, 16,005 for ice hockey, and up to 18,000 for concerts; it has no luxury suites, but held an unprecedented 2,400 club seats for events. In excess of 70 percent of the seats were located between the goals, and no seat is more than 170 feet from the playing surface. However, as it is designed as a sports arena, it is ill-suited for musical performance events, and the acoustics are poor compared with performance venues such as the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre, other major venues in the Greater LA area.

The Forum became a landmark in the Greater Los Angeles Area, in large measure from the success of the Lakers and from the Hollywood celebrities often sighted in its audiences. It hosted a vast number of events such as tennis matches, rock concerts, boxing matches, ice shows, rodeos, indoor soccer, 3/4 midget racing cars, and political events. It is sometimes referred to as the Los Angeles Forum or L.A. Forum to differentiate it from other buildings, venues and places carrying the name "Forum".

In July 1970, the The Jackson 5 broke attendance records at the Forum, performing a concert with 18,675 paid admissions, grossing $105,000.[2]

Elvis Presley played two shows there on November 14, 1970 during his first tour of the '70s.

Barbra Streisand recorded her Live Concert at the Forum there on April 15, 1972.[3]

Between 1970 and 1977, Led Zeppelin played at the Forum 16 times (their live album How the West Was Won was partly recorded at the venue), including a run of 6 sold-out dates in 1977; one of these shows comprises the famous bootleg Listen To This Eddie. Also in 1977, Kiss recorded their second live album Alive II at the Forum.

In 1979, Cooke sold The Forum, along with the Lakers and the Kings, to Jerry Buss for a then-record $67.5 million.

1980s

The Lakers experienced a tremendous run of success in the 1980s, winning five NBA Championships and making the NBA Finals every year but two. This level of success raised The Forum's profile greatly across the sporting world, as fans became accustomed to watching playoff games and other important games played there by the Lakers.

In 1984, The Forum also found itself in an international spotlight, as it hosted the basketball tournaments of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

In December 1988, Buss capitalized on all of this success by selling the arena's naming rights to Great Western Savings & Loan.[4] This also coincided with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in Los Angeles, which greatly increased the profile of the building's other tenant, the Kings. The exterior of the building was repainted blue from the original "Roman red" color, and the building was officially renamed the "Great Western Forum", and that name was retained for several years, even after Great Western was acquired by Washington Mutual and ceased to exist. Such naming rights deals eventually became commonplace in major American sports, but were not so at the time of Buss' deal with Great Western.[5] There was some initial negative public reaction to the changing of the venue's historic name, and most local residents continued to refer to the arena as simply "The Forum".[6][7] However, the adverse reaction was eventually somewhat muted by the fact that the new name of "Great Western Forum" sounded rather like a natural name for the arena, given its location in the western United States.[8] So much so that many people, particularly among those outside the Los Angeles area, remained unaware that the name was the result of a naming rights deal.

1990s

Janet Jackson sold out the venue in just 48 minutes for her four shows as part of her Rhythm Nation World Tour.

Before the 1991–92 NBA and NHL seasons, a new, modern scoreboard was installed, replacing the one that had been in use since the building opened in 1967. However, by the middle of the decade, the Great Western Forum was still regarded as too small, and more importantly, it lacked premium skyboxes and sufficient retail and commercial space. Los Angeles officials, seeking to redevelop that city's downtown area, began planning for a new sports arena and entertainment complex to be located there, with an eye toward wooing the Lakers and Kings away from Inglewood.

The King's owners (who did substantial business as real estate developers) agreed to develop the complex, eventually given the name "Staples Center", and signed Buss on to move the Lakers into the new arena as a co-tenant with the Kings. The new arena was to open in the autumn of 1999 and, as part of this deal, Buss sold the Great Western Forum to L.A. Arena Co. (a company also owned by the Kings' owners).

In 1999, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith opened at the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World. The ride is depicted as a wild-drive through Los Angeles, via stretched limousine, to the Forum for an Aerosmith concert.

2000s

Blaming the Great Western Forum for low attendance, the Sparks made 2000 their last season in the venue and then followed the Lakers and Clippers to Staples Center.

Faithful Central Bible Church, home to a predominantly African-American congregation numbering over 12,000, purchased the Great Western Forum at the end of 2000 and began holding its regular service there each Sunday morning. However, Faithful Central representatives have said that their intention in purchasing the arena was never to convert into a religious building, and in 2009, the church discontinued regular use of The Forum for its church services.[9]

Under Faithful Central, the building has continued to be made available for rent for concerts, sporting events and other activities that require that type of large venue. As such, ownership is held through the church's for-profit entity, Forum Enterprises, Inc., which continues to welcome to the arena mainstream and secular fare, including concerts by such artists as Metallica, Madonna, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Green Day, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In 2003, Great Western's naming rights contract on the building expired, and Forum Enterprises reverted the venue's official name to the original "The Forum". Despite this, and despite the fact that Great Western had in 1997 ceased to exist as a separate entity, the Great Western corporate logo and the letters forming the words GREAT WESTERN initially remained on the building's exterior. Great Western's exterior lettering was finally removed from the building in 2006.

The departure of the building's major sports teams has significantly lowered The Forum's profile, especially outside of the Los Angeles area. As a result, the "Great Western Forum" name is still frequently heard, as some individuals remain unaware that the original name has been restored. In addition, the Forum's center-hung four-sided scoreboard has been removed.

The venue continues to be made available for film use, such as arena interior shots used in the 2002 film Like Mike. Rock band Foo Fighters used the building as the setting and filming location in the music video for the song "All My Life" in 2003, prominently featuring the outside architecture and name of the building in the opening and closing shots. In 2008, a scene for the 2009 feature film, Hannah Montana: The Movie was filmed outside of The Forum as was the video for the Weezer song Troublemaker from their 2008 album The Red Album.

In the spring of 2009, the Forum hosted rehearsals for Michael Jackson's This Is It concert series in London, cancelled following his death on June 25 but memorialized in the documentary Michael Jackson's This Is It.

On October 9, 2009, the Lakers returned to the Forum for a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors to celebrate the start of the team's 50th season in Los Angeles. The Lakers lost 110-91. Because the scoreboard had been torn down during its use as a church, a temporary scoreboard and video monitor was brought in for the game.

References

  1. ^ Heisler, Mark. Madmen's Ball: The Inside Story of the Lakers' Dysfunctional Dynasties (2004) ISBN 1-57243-681-6
  2. ^ Taraborrelli, J. Randy (1991). Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness (first ed.). New York: Birch Lane Press, an imprint of Carol Publishing Group. p. 72. ISBN 1-55972-064-6.  
  3. ^ Spada, James; Nickens, Christopher (1981). Streisand: The Woman and the Legend. Garden City, New York: Dolphin Books, an imprint of Doubleday. p. 149. ISBN 0-385-17567-1.  
  4. ^ Horovitz, Bruce. (1988, December 6). "They're Banking That It's a Great Advertising Forum", Los Angeles Times
  5. ^ Sanders, Edmund. (2000, August 19). "High Price of Naming Rights Sometimes Worth It", Los Angeles Times
    "The Great Western Forum was one of the nation's first sports venues to cut a corporate sponsorship deal when it did so in 1988."
  6. ^ Sanders. "Great Western, for example, never convinced Southern Californians to embrace the bank's name when referring to the former Forum in Inglewood despite its $17.8-million sponsorship deal."
  7. ^ Zitner, Arron. (1993, May 15). "A BANK SHOT FOR NEW GARDEN HIGH-INTEREST BIDDING TO NAME ARENA REPORTEDLY YIELDS SHAWMUT CENTER", Boston Globe
    "'I don't believe I've heard anyone on the street call it the Great Western Forum', Kupper said."
  8. ^ Downey, Mike. (1989, June 21). "Event Names No Longer Are Givens", Los Angeles Times
    "I was simply happy that the banking company's name blended in so nicely. After all, some other bank could have bought the joint. The Lakers just have easily could have ended up playing in the Security Pacific Forum, or the Mitsui Manufacturers Forum, or even the Downey Savings Forum."
  9. ^ Crowe, Jerry. (2009, May 17). "A funny thing happened along the way to the Forum", Los Angeles Times

External links


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