The signing of high-scoring right wing Ziggy Palffy probably won't turn out to be the best thing to happen to the Kings this coming season. And the signing of first-round draft pick Lamar Odom is unlikely to be the best thing to happen to the Clippers.
The biggest thing that the beleaguered hockey and basketball teams which finished last in their respective divisions last season have going for them is the opening of Staples Center.
Excitement surrounding the new $375 million arena is expected to bring new attention to the Kings, who will be moving from the Great Western Forum, and the Clippers, who will be moving from the L.A. Sports Arena.
Sports marketing experts and team officials agree that interest in the arena which also will be the site of the Democratic National Convention and the Grammy Awards in 2000, as well as concerts by Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles this year will lead to higher attendance at Clippers and Kings games.
Furthermore, the purchase of premier seats and luxury suites for games by the Lakers, who attract much larger crowds than either the Kings or Clippers, will generate higher attendance at the other two teams' games. That's because those who lease the arena's 2,500 premier seats and 160 suites can attend games played by all three teams.
"I think without the Lakers, you could not have built as many suites as we built or gotten the amount of money for the suites that people were willing to pay," said Edward P. Roski Jr., co-owner of both the Kings and Staples Center.
"The Lakers are the cornerstone of the market. The Lakers will be sold out no matter how big of a place you built," he said.
David M. Carter, principal of Sports Business Group, an L.A.-based sports marketing firm, said interest in the new arena, which has received national attention, will be a draw for people who cannot afford or get tickets for Lakers games or concerts.
"The sizzle and excitement of a new facility like Staples Center is going to draw a tremendous amount of attention and, by extension, a lot of people in L.A. who have not tried hockey, and maybe basketball," he said. "(The Kings and Clippers) have a chance to capture the curiosity of a lot of people then turn them into a group ticket, a season ticket."
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