STAPLES Center President Talks 20 Years of L.A. Sports

View Transcript
Lee Zeidman with Max Godnick and Alyssa Julya Smith. Photo Credit: Cheddar
October 16, 2019

The iconic STAPLES Center in Los Angeles is celebrating its 20-year anniversary this week.

Founded in 1999, the arena has grown into a world-class facility — on par with New York’s Madison Square Garden and London’s O2 Arena — and is now home to four professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers.

Yet opening STAPLES two decades ago in the less-than-thriving downtown City of Angels was a risky bet.

“The success of STAPLES Center was never guaranteed,” said Lee Zeidman, the president of STAPLES Center and L.A. Live, an adjacent entertainment center. “Nobody went downtown. It rolled up its carpet and closed at 5 p.m.”

Today, STAPLES draws enormous crowds to its events, which range from basketball to hockey to the Grammy Awards. In total, the arena has held 5,000 events, welcomed 75 million fans, and sold over 20 million beers.

The arena is also gearing up for a major event in the sports world next week: the NBA’s October 22 opening night matchup between the teams that call it home: the Lakers and the Clippers.

“We will be the center of the NBA universe,” said Zeidman, who was the arena's first full-time employee 20 years ago. “It is one of the most anticipated opening night games in the history of the NBA."