Music - burning house of love by X
Photographed in 1987, 1991, 1996 and 1997 using film. Also shot in 2008 using digital.
Memorial Sports Arena - Opened in 1959 and still standing. Official name is Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Location - 3939 S. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, California.
The red headed stepchild of arenas sits a stones throw from downtown Los Angeles, and directly across Exposition Blvd. from USC. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports arena is located in Exposition park along with the Memorial Coliseum. Opened on July 8, 1959 with a boxing match, the Sports Arena quickly became the place to play in Los Angeles. It replaced the old antiquated Pan Pacific Auditorium.
The first major tenant was the neighbor just to the north of the arena, the USC basketball team. The Trojans had the longest run at the arena starting in 1959 and running all the way thru the 2006 season. After that final campaign, the Trojans moved into the Galen center, an on campus facility. The main college basketball team in Los Angeles, the UCLA Bruins, played in the Sports arena from 1960 thru the 1965 season, when Pauley Pavilion was opened.
After having trouble finding a suitable arena in Minneapolis, Bob Short headed west with his Minneapolis Lakers. The Lakers made there debut in the Sports Arena on October 24, 1960 with a 111-104 loss to the New York Knicks. After 6 and 1/2 years, the Lakers bid farewell to the Sports Arena and moved into their new palace, the Forum in Inglewood. The final Lakers game too place on December 22, 1967 with a 133-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons. For the next 17 years, the NBA abandoned the old arena. That is until the hapless San Diego Clippers / Buffalo Braves moved in for the 1984 season. The Clippers were not very good in Buffalo or San Diego, and weren't much better in LA. Their first game had some irony to it. The first visitors were the New York Knicks, the same Knicks that opened the arena against the Lakers in 1960. This time however, the Clippers won 107-105. They had spurts of being a good team, and even made the playoffs, but LA is a Lakers town. The arena had a gym like feel to it. Some called it a dump. After the 1999 season, the Clippers left to move into the new Staples Center in downtown LA. The final Clippers game was on May 5, 1999 when the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Clippers 107-105 in the last NBA game at the arena.
There was one other major basketball tenant for the arena. The Los Angeles Stars of the old ABA played here from 1968 thru 1970 when the team moved to Utah. The WHA also had a stake in the building, placing the fledgling Los Angeles Sharks here in 1972. Like the ABA, the WHA had more relocations than Allied van lines. The Sharks lasted 2 seasons in LA before they swam to Michigan to become the Stags. They soon folded after leaving Michigan for Baltimore in 1975.
The NHL expanded in 1967 with six teams. The Oakland Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota NorthStars and Los Angeles Kings all joined the NHL.
The Kings played their first few games at the Long Beach Arena due to contractual problems with then owner Jack Kent Cooke. The first game was played at the arena on October 31st 1967 against the New York Rangers. The Kings got blown out 6-1. The Rangers were the third New York home opener for the arena. The Kings didn't stay long here, moving into the new Forum at the end of 1967. The final game here for the Kings was on December 23, 1967 when they defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-0.
Since its opening day, the arena has hosted the 1960 Democratic National Convention, the 1968 and 1972 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, the 1992 NCAA Women's Basketball Final Four, the 1963 NBA All-Star Game, and the boxing competitions during the 1984 Summer Olympics. It has also hosted its share of rock concerts. Both Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band and U2 have favored the arena over the Forum.
Even though the arena has no major tenant now, it still has it's share of events. It also has a place in Los Angeles sports history as the cities first major sports venue.
Map of Exposition park where the Coliseum and Sports arena are. Photo from internet.
Inside the Clippers old locker room.
The visitors locker room at the Sports Arena.