Out of Staples?
With LAist's attention focused solely on baseball for the past month, we've missed a lot of great stories. USC Football remains No. 1 after a thrilling win over Cal. UCLA Football might not be so bad after all. Lakers training camp is interesting, no matter who's coaching, who's playing, and who's not playing.But between Ross Porter's potentially final Dodger broadcast (we'll address this again soon), and another Shaq-Kobe feud, one thing caught our eye in the paper recently.
But fear not, LA fans, this is not some greedy owner trying to hold a city hostage for a better stadium deal while threatening to move (as if the Clippers could do that). Rather, for the first time ever we can think of in sports history, it's the arena which is considering kicking out the team.
That's right. Anschutz Gold Boy Tim Leiweke told the Downtown News of all publications that Staples Center could make more money from five concerts than from 41 Clipper home games, and with the Clippers lease set expire after the 2004-05, AEG is considering giving Donald Sterling's team the boot.
Where would the Clippers go? Well, Donald Sterling has demonstrated time and again that he's an LA guy, and refuses to be anywhere else. Remember when he turned down a sweet deal at the Pond so he could remain at the decrepit Sports Arena? So you can immediately forget about those Clippers back to San Diego, Clippers to St. Louis, Clippers to Kansas City, Clippers to Louisville, or Clippers to Las Vegas theories.
The Sports Arena would have to be considered a possible Clipper home again, even if it lacks luxury boxes. The same goes for the Forum, which isn't used for much of anything these days except Sunday morning services for the Inglewood Baptist Church. If Sterling decides he actually wants a decent arena, and a fan base where he'll compete less with Laker fans, he could have the Clippers play full-time at the Pond, an arena begging for something to makeup its hockey losses. Sterling might also want to consider the oft-overlooked market of Long Beach and try the Long Beach Arena until a new building could be constructed for him.
But LAist think the best solution is for the Clippers to remain at Staples. Part of the reason why the arena generates so little money off Clippers games is because Clipper ticket prices are so low. Whenever LA basketball fans (and this writer in particular) want to see an NBA game, but not have to shell out four figures to see his beloved Lakers, the Clippers prove to be a reasonable NBA option. Heck, it's even worked for the Clippers who every year are one of the most profitable teams in the NBA because their payroll is so low.
LAist suggests that the Clippers bring in management who knows what they're doing. Management that wouldn't let Quentin Richardson go away for nothing and replace him with Kerry Kittles. Then maybe, the Clippers can get back to their 2001 glory year (when they had an ESPN TV show), and sell out games again. And the sellouts would make the Clippers a worthy tenant for Staples and Tim Leiweke's bottom line.
LA is a two-basketball team town, and it should always stay that way.