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What Makes The Forum Special? // The Forum Arena: A Super Quick History

The Forum arena is an iconic entertainment venue located in Inglewood, California, which has been host to numerous concerts, sporting events, and other performances since its opening in 1967. The history of the Forum arena is deeply rooted in the cultural and social fabric of Los Angeles, and it has played an essential role in the development of the entertainment industry in the city. 

In 1966 the NHL announced that it would be expanding the league by adding six new teams. Los Angeles was a growing, popular large market without an NHL team at the time and there were multiple bids to establish a team there. Two of the most prominent bids came from Dan Reeves (owner of the Los Angeles Rams), and Jack Kent Cooke (owner of the Los Angeles Lakers). Reeve’s bid was favored by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, which owned the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. This was mainly because Reeves already owned a minor league hockey team the Los Angeles Blades, which played at the Memorial Sports Arena. Cooke was told by the LA Memorial Commission that if he were to win the bid, he would not be allowed to use the Sports Arena as a home for his NHL team, even though Cooke’s Lakers had been playing there since 1960. Cooke, incensed by commissions actions, promised to build his own arena in Inglewood instead. After paying the $2 million expansion fee, the NHL ultimately awarded Cooke rights to an expansion club in February of 1966. This paved the way for the eventual construction of the Forum, and the gradual decline of the Memorial Sports Arena as it lost its most prominent tenant, the Lakers and a chance to host another major sports franchise in the newly formed Los Angeles Kings hockey club.

A groundbreaking event for the new Forum arena took place on July 1 1966, with construction continuing over the next year and a half. The arena was seen by  most as a replacement for the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which had become outdated and inadequate for modern events. The arena was designed by architect Charles Luckman, who designed many prominent buildings all over the world, and in Los Angeles in particular with his design of the iconic “Theme Building” restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport. The construction of the Forum was a massive undertaking, with over 3,500 workers involved in the project and a total cost of $16 million dollars. The venue quickly became a popular destination for music fans, and the Forum hosted performances by some of the biggest names in rock and roll, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. When it first opened, the Forum became the home to both of the city’s basketball and hockey clubs, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings. The arena was also a popular venue for boxing matches, with many memorable fights taking place there over the years. 

The Forum was a bustling hub of entertainment during the 1970’s and 80’s. The decade saw the arena host a variety of events, from concerts to sporting events and everything in between. Some of the most memorable events at the Forum during this time included a boxing match between legendary fighters Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton. In 1982, the “Miracle on Manchester”, took place during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Kings came back to defeat Edmonton Oilers in overtime, after starting the game down 0-5. The Forum played host to multiple NBA Finals during the decade, as the “Showtime” Lakers era was in full effect. The Forum was also the site of the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, as well as the 1984 Summer Olympics basketball and handball events. The 1990s saw the Forum’s popularity wane somewhat as newer, larger venues like the Staples Center were built in the Los Angeles area. However, the arena remained a popular destination for many music fans and continued to host major events. In 1999, the Lakers and Kings moved to the previously mentioned newly built Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, and the Forum was left without a primary tenant. The arena continued to host concerts and other events, but its future was uncertain. 

In 2012, the Forum was sold to the Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation, which embarked on a massive renovation project to restore the venue to its former glory. The renovation, which cost over $50 million, included upgrades to the arena’s sound and lighting systems, as well as the installation of new seats and luxury suites. The renovated Forum reopened in 2014, and it quickly became a popular destination for concerts, award shows, and other events. Jumping ahead to 2020, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made headlines when he announced his purchase of the Forum arena in Inglewood, California, for $400 million. Ballmer’s acquisition of the venue was part of his plan to build a new arena for his Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, which currently shares the Staples Center with the Lakers and the Kings. Ballmer was essentially forced to buy the Forum from MSG, after they claimed that Ballmer’s plan to build the brand new Intuit Dome would severely impact the Forum’s ability to book live events and concerts in the future. The purchase was not without further controversy, as the owners of the nearby SoFi Stadium, which is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers football teams, filed a lawsuit against Ballmer, claiming that the new arena would interfere with their parking and traffic plans. However, Ballmer remained committed to his vision for the Clippers and the city of Inglewood, and his purchase of the Forum was seen as a major step forward in his plans to build a state-of-the-art arena that would rival the best in the country.

Today, the Forum remains one of the most important and historic entertainment venues in Los Angeles. Its rich history and iconic design make it a must-see destination for music fans and sports enthusiasts alike. From Muhammad Ali’s epic battles to the Lakers’ numerous championships, the Forum has been at the center of some of the most unforgettable moments in Los Angeles sports history. In addition to sports, the Forum has also been a favorite venue for some of the most significant musical acts of all time. From Elvis Presley to the Beatles to Prince, the Forum has been home to some of the most legendary performances in rock and roll history. The Forum’s iconic design has also made it a favorite location for film and television shoots. The Forum’s rich history and cultural significance have made it an essential part of the Los Angeles landscape, and it continues to be a favorite destination for music fans, and sports enthusiasts alike.


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