Over the years, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena has been a pretty good sport about things.
Even now, it doesn’t seem to be complaining too much that the first “S” in its rooftop marquee visible from Figueroa Street has gone missing.
Or that its surrounding trees barely provides enough shade or its iron-bar perimeter fencing doesn’t keep out the local homeless community that congregate on the barren grass for a nap near the flag poles.
On an overcast Monday afternoon when the Major Soccer League expansion L.A. Football Club held a grandiose announcement in Exposition Park to reveal its plans to bulldoze the 56-year-old place and create a new outdoor stadium, hardly anyone on the dais bothered to mention that the Sports Arena had been a good and faithful servant to the city, but that its stay of execution is about to end. No more reprieves.
In its hey-day, the state-of-the-art, 16,000-seat mushroom cloud with the turquoise facade was the first home address for the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, UCLA and USC basketball. A couple of NCAA Final Fours happened there too – 1968 and ’72, both conveniently won by, of course, John Wooden’s Bruins.
In its not-so-hey-day, the retrofitted rustbucket was like the house on the block that kept having garage sales. It welcomed minor-league hockey, indoor soccer, arena football, ABA basketball, lingerie football, Wrestlemania, lucha libre events and the “American Gladiators” TV show.
Lately, it has been available to accommodate events such as evangelical gatherings or beer festivals when other places were booked. It could serve as convenient self-storage unit or accessible party rest room when major events were going on next door at the Coliseum.
Now a soccer team officially kicks it to the curb during what construction people say will be a two-year demo process. Continue reading