If you've been thinking about buying a luxury suite at the new downtown sports arena, you'd better act fast 13 months before the Staples Center is scheduled to open, 100 of the 160 available suites have already been sold.
"We've never had suites in this market, so we didn't know what to expect," said Vince Bryson, who is in charge of selling the suites. "But there has been a very enthusiastic response from this community. We should be sold out by the end of this year."
The suites range in price from $197,000 to $300,000 per year, depending on location, and leases run five, seven or 10 years. The rooms seat as many as 20 people, and include access to the arena's private concourses as well as the Arena Club dining room and bar.
"To be 65 percent sold, over a year out, is good," said Steve Schanwald, vice president of marketing for the United Center in Chicago, home of the Chicago Bulls and a facility comparable in size to the Staples Center. "I think most places that have suites are fairly successful. There's a wide appeal for that product, primarily among corporations looking to entertain their customers."
The best seats at Staples also are being snatched up fast. About two-thirds of the arena's 2,500 "premier" seats, which cost $12,800 or $14,800 per year, depending on location, have been reserved with deposits. That buys a single seat for all Kings, Lakers and Clippers games, with an option to purchase the same seats for other events, such as concerts.
Like luxury suite-owners, premier ticket holders will have exclusive use of the three private concourses one concourse for each of the three levels of suites as well as access to the Arena Club dining area and bar.
"We're trying to make this a soup-to-nuts private and special experience for suite holders," said Mitch Huberman, vice president of new business development for the Staples Center, who is spearheading the sales effort.
The suites are arranged like a living room, with six stools set up along a bar facing into the arena. They also come with traditional theater seating for 12, on a private balcony. The rooms are finished in granite and cherrywood, and suite holders can choose from three different upholstery schemes. They also can customize the room with a framed picture or logo of their choosing.
Each suite comes with two small refrigerators one of which contains a wine rack as well as a large-screen television and two smaller sets built into the wall, with satellite and in-house feeds. Levy Restaurants, which services Edison Field in Anaheim and other sports facilities, will provide high-end food service for the arena, including catering for the suites.
To market the suites, Staples Center officials determined which companies had a block of eight or 10 season seats at the Forum. They also contacted downtown companies near the arena.
"We found that the bigger law firms were all quite interested," said Roth.
David Rogers, a partner in the downtown law firm Latham & Watkins, said his firm has signed a 10-year lease on a prime, mid-court suite.
"I think that building is going to be a focal point for Los Angeles for several decades," he said. "We thought it was an appropriate place to spend a lot of time with our clients and friends."
Suzanne Thompson, manager of public relations for Deloitte & Touche LLP, said the firm is sharing a suite with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.
"There are probably going to be synergies between that firm and our firm, in terms of clients we're bringing there," she said. "We think the Staples Center is going to be one of the biggest venues in downtown, and that it's really important to be there."
Lakers fan Lenny Fodemski, chief operating officer of Lockton Insurance Brokers, said his firm is leasing a suite with Web Service Co. Inc., which runs laundry rooms in apartment buildings, and investment banking firm Barrington Associates.
Fodemski said the arena drives a hard bargain.
"Was the price negotiable? There were different prices for different sized suites in different locations, so the negotiable terms were somewhere between slim and none. Closer to none," he said. "When we went in there a few months ago, there were already 60 suites taken. We were fortunate enough to get one."
While suites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, the premier seats are being offered only to "senate" seat holders at the Great Western Forum.
In mid-September, the arena will make premier seats available to all Kings season ticket holders. Why do Kings fans have priority?
"Because the Kings own the arena," said Bryson. "We wanted to give top priority to fans who have been loyal to the Kings."
Those who purchase tickets to the current Kings season also will be given priority over Lakers season-ticket holders.
Lakers season-ticket holders will be offered premier seating after the Kings season-ticket holders have been accommodated. Clippers season-ticket holders will follow.
The rest of the seats in arena, including those between the floor and the premier seats, will be available for season-ticket purchase in November of this year. They will range from around $65-$120 per seat per game.
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