DANIEL TAUB

Staff Reporter

Things are going so well over at Staples Center that the owners have decided to purchase the Great Western Forum for the overflow.

L.A. Arena Co. a partnership of Anschutz Corp., News Corp.'s Fox division and Majestic Realty Co. last week announced that its affiliate has entered into an agreement to buy the Forum from California Sports Inc., a company owned by Lakers' owner Jerry Buss. The purchase price is estimated at $35 million.

"Obviously when you have a building that is as busy as Staples Center is going to be, to have a second building that is, a back-up building, a contingency building it makes great sense," said Timothy J. Leiweke, president of Staples Center.

The $375 million downtown arena is expected to host 200 to 230 events a year.

The Forum, which will continue to be home to the Los Angeles Sparks women's basketball team this season and next, will host about 100 events the first year after the ownership transfer more if another anchor tenant can be found.

Leiweke said one possibility is minor league hockey. "We haven't had any direct conversations yet, but our expectation is that that is a realistic possibility," he said.

Among those reportedly interested in buying the Forum was New York-based SFX Entertainment Inc., which owns concert venues nationwide, including the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.

David M. Carter, president of Sports Business Group, an L.A.-based marketing firm, said the purchase may have been an effort to prevent SFX from getting too strong a foothold in the area.

While Leiweke said that issue was never considered, he added that the purchase will prevent another potentially awkward situation. "We didn't want to be in a situation where we were competing with Dr. Buss on events," he said.

The new owners are also expected to consider additional means of generating revenues perhaps including the construction of a soccer stadium or other entertainment venue adjacent to the Forum. The purchase includes 29 acres of land; the Forum itself occupies only 3.5 acres.

Leiweke said there are no such plans in the works.

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