When a suite owner arrived at Staples Center in the past, he faced two possible problems: A locked door or an unlocked door.
A locked door meant the suite owner had to track down an arena staff member with a key. An unlocked door might mean that uninvited guests had entered and eaten the suite owner's food.
As a result, Staples Center last week became the fourth arena in the country to install technology developed by Ticketmaster called Access Manager. Each suite has a bar code scanner that unlocks the door when the owner scans his ticket.
Even though the Staples Center is only entering its eighth year, the owner, Anschutz Entertainment Group, spent $3 million in the off season to keep the 20,000-seat venue from showing its age.
"Each year, we decide to do something major to refresh the building," said Lee Zeidman, AEG senior vice president and Staples Center general manager. "This year we decided to focus on improving suites and food offerings."
The changes are the result of focus groups that AEG conducted for the first time. AEG now plans to conduct focus groups twice a year.
Other suggestions that resulted in changes this year include the addition of healthy food options and a floating dessert cart. Two carving stations have also been added to the Premier Level. For 2007, the arena is working to provide an online food and beverage ordering system.
Parking around the arena is one of the largest issues facing the venue. AEG last spring closed two lots permanently to develop the nearby $2.5 billion L.A. Live project. In order to compensate, AEG purchased a lot from the Convention Center and added lighting, security staff and a tram that will run from to the arena.
"All of our season ticket holders are covered for this season," Zeidman said. The issue is temporary as 3,600 stalls will be included in the L.A. Live complex.
The arena hosts hockey, basketball and arena football. It expects to host 250 events during the year, including 25 concerts by such singers as Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Black Eyed Peas and Barbra Streisand.
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