Culver City Observer -

Farewell LA Sports Arena: Thanks For The Memories

 


When a closing ceremony was held last Thursday for the official ending of the Los Angeles Sports Arena after 57years my mind wandered into the past.

“I used to work there,” I told my friends.

Then I went into deeper thoughts about the 22-year-old Mitch and my entrance into the sports world.

I had just graduated from Cal State Los Angeles College and was attempting to find my way in the world. The Lakers had played a few games at the college and I got to know some of their employees.. One day I received a call and was asked to go to the Sports Arena.

Shockingly, I was offered the job of Publicity Director of the Lakers. I didn’t know if I’d like it but I accepted.

A couple of years later I realized that I preferred a newspaper career but I was thankful for the experience.

The crusty guy who ran the Lakers was Lou Mohs, a unique individual. He’s scouted college games all over the United States, then was in the office early the next morning day after day. He once tried to fight a rival player and was handed a technical foul. He once had me work out Billy McGill, a former LA high school star who was trying out for the Lakers

The coach was Fred Schaus. The star players were Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. When Baylor was in military duty in Seattle fans would call to ask if he’d be playing in the next game. We were instructed to say yes, adding that we just learned he’d be here.

The Sports Arena opened in July of 1959 and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon presided. The 1960 Democratic National Convention was held there when John F. Kennedy was nominated for president.

The Clippers, UCLA and USC played basketball there too. The LA Kings played hockey. Numerous Bruce Springsteen concerts were held there. So many, in fact that Springsteen asked to appear at the Sports Arena recently for the final event in the building.

When the Forum was built and Pauley Pavilion was built there were far less major sports events in the building.

In time a new professional soccer team planned to play in Los Angeles as Major League Soccer will have the team replace Chivas USA, which has folded.

The new 25,000-seat soccer stadium will replace the Sports Arena.

Magic Johnson, former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra and his wife, soccer star Mia Hamm I are part owners of the soccer team that will begin playing on the former Sports Arena grounds in 2018 About 3,000 jobs will be created to build the stadium.

“I’m very happy that many jobs will be created for local people,” said Johnson.

The Sports Arena leaves many memories. It wasn’t as fancy as the Forum. It had less conveniences. But it was home to many and it will remain a Los Angeles treasure.

 

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