JOE BEL BRUNO Staff Reporter
The Los Angeles area hasn't had a major new sports arena since the Great Western Forum was built in Inglewood 30 years ago. So if a new downtown arena is approved, developers are promising a futuristic facility that will make today's venues look like relics of the past.
The features being considered include personal video screens for every fan, holographic half-time shows and the technology to order concessions from your seat, without having to get up and stand in line.
"This will be wired completely with fiber optics and more high-tech than you've ever seen from the concession stands to the scoreboard," said Kings president Tim Lieweke, who would also manage the facility. "The future is here."
The project, which would be located adjacent to the L.A. Convention Center, has been given preliminary approval by the Los Angeles City Council.
Although public hearings must still be held and final approval granted, developers Ed Roski Jr. and Philip Anschutz are shooting for a 1999 opening and have commissioned four architects to come up with preliminary designs.
In addition to becoming the new home of the NBA Lakers and NHL Kings (both of which now play at the Forum), the proposed Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Complex would also be a venue for major concerts and other performances.
Designers and developers say their aim is nothing less than to transform the entire sports arena experience from the time you park your car to when you drive home at night.
For starters, forget about parking in a bare outdoor lot. Conceptual designs show multi-level garages linked to the back of retail shops.
Surrounded by special lighting and music, visitors would walk through a themed retail center similar to Universal City Walk before entering the arena.
"It's all about creating a mood and anticipation from the minute you get out of your car," said Daniel R. Meis, an architect with Los Angeles-based NBBJ Sports & Entertainment, one of the firms preparing preliminary designs.
"Music would be pumped into speakers at first it will be low, almost subliminal, and as you get closer to the arena it will build with intensity. Those are the kind of things we want," he said.
Mounted on the outside of the arena, according to one plan, would be a giant video screen broadcasting what's going on inside.
Once inside the actual arena, fans will step into a concourse level offering an array of activities, Meis said including an interactive area where visitors can do everything from purchase tickets to play a one-on-one virtual reality game.
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