|The Fabulous Forum, Los Angeles Forum, L.A. Forum|
|Location||3900 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, California 90305|
|Owner||Faithful Central Bible Church, Forum Enterprises, Inc.|
|Construction cost||$16 million|
|Architect||Charles Luckman Associates|
|Former names||The Forum (1967-1988)|
Great Western Forum (1988-2003)
|Tenants||Los Angeles Lakers (National Basketball Association) (1967-1999)|
Los Angeles Sparks (Womens National Basketball Association) (1997-2000)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL) (1967-1999)
The Forum, known for a 15-year period as the Great Western Forum, is an arena in Inglewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The Forum is owned by the Faithful Central Bible Church, which occasionally uses it for church services, in addition to making the building available for sporting events, concerts and other events.
The Forum achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League from 1967 until 1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center. Along with Madison Square Garden, it was one of the most well-known indoor sports venues in the world during this time. The building was also the home of the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association from 1997 until they too moved to Staples Center in 2001.
The Forum was the site of the 1972 NBA All-Star Game and 1983 NBA All-Star Game, the 1981 NHL All-Star Game.
The "Fabulous" Forum, as it would become colloquially known to locals, was constructed by Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Lakers and founding owner of the Kings, in 1967. The circular, $16 million structure was designed by renowned Los Angeles architect Charles Luckman and was intended to evoke the Roman Forum. The arena seats 17,505 for basketball, 16,005 for ice hockey, and up to 18,000 for concerts; it has no luxury suites, but held an unprecedented 2,400 club seats for events. In excess of 70 percent of the seats were located between the goals, and no seat is more than 170 feet from the playing surface. However, as it is designed as a sports arena, it is ill-suited for musical performance events, and the acoustics are poor compared with performance venues such as the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre, other major venues in the Greater LA area.
The Forum became a landmark in the Greater Los Angeles Area, in large measure from the success of the Lakers and from the Hollywood celebrities often sighted in its audiences.
In 1979, Cooke sold The Forum, along with the Lakers and the Kings, to Jerry Buss for a then-record $67.5 million.
The Lakers experienced a tremendous run of success in the 1980s, winning five NBA Championships and making the NBA Finals every year but two. This level of success raised The Forum's profile greatly across the sporting world, as fans became accustomed to watching playoff games and other important games played there by the Lakers.
In 1984, The Forum also found itself in an international spotlight, as it hosted the basketball tournaments of the 1984 Summer Olympics.
In December 1988, Buss capitalized on all of this success by selling the arena's naming rights to Great Western Bank. This also coincided with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in Los Angeles, which greatly increased the profile of the building's other tenant, the Kings. The exterior of the building was repainted blue from the original "Roman red" color, and the building was officially renamed the "Great Western Forum", and that name was retained for several years, even after Great Western was acquired by Washington Mutual and ceased to exist. Such naming rights deals eventually became commonplace in major American sports, but were not so at the time of Buss' deal with Great Western. There was some initial negative public reaction to the changing of the venue's historic name, and most local residents continued to refer to the arena as simply "The Forum". However, the adverse reaction was eventually somewhat muted by the fact that the new name of "Great Western Forum" sounded rather like a natural name for the arena, given its location in the western United States. So much so that many people, particularly among those outside the Los Angeles area, remained unaware that the name was the result of a naming rights deal.
Before the 1991–92 NBA and NHL seasons, a new, modern scoreboard was installed, replacing the one that had been in use since the building opened in 1967. However, by the middle of the decade, the Great Western Forum was still regarded as too small, and more importantly, it lacked premium skyboxes and sufficient retail and commercial space. Los Angeles officials, seeking to redevelop that city's downtown area, began planning for a new sports arena and entertainment complex to be located there, with an eye toward wooing the Lakers and Kings away from Inglewood.
The King's owners (who did substantial business as real estate developers) agreed to develop the complex, eventually given the name "Staples Center", and signed Buss on to move the Lakers into the new arena as a co-tenant with the Kings. The new arena was to open in the autumn of 1999 and, as part of this deal, Buss sold the Great Western Forum to L.A. Arena Co. (a company also owned by the King's owners).