Financial institutions have long sought to distinguish themselves by targeting specialized markets, ranging from ethnic groups, to geographic regions, to industries.

Broadway Federal Bank, the subsidiary of Los Angeles-based holding company Broadway Financial Corp., has its sights set on sports teams.

In December, it helped bankroll the purchase of the L.A. Sparks from L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss by a group of investors lead by attorneys Kathy Goodman and Carla Christofferson.

And last week, Broadway Federal became the first minority bank to become a top sponsor of a WNBA team when it announced its sponsorship of the Sparks. As part of the deal, the bank is getting 100 free tickets to each home game, signage in the stadium and recognition in print, radio and television.

More importantly, the deal is expected to help the bank fulfill its ambitions of being a primary lender to the Sparks, other WNBA teams and sports organizations outside women's basketball.

"This deal allows us to access the community from a sports angle instead of a traditional business angle," said Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Hudson. "Sports like professional women's basketball allow us entry into the marketplace."

The bank is making its move as the WNBA changes its ownership structure. The teams were originally owned by their NBA counterparts in their home cities, but the NBA teams have been given permission to sell the WNBA franchises to independent owners now that the 10-year-old league has established itself.

The bank is also making an aggressive move into Major League Soccer, which is expected to grow as new cities are awarded franchises and MLS co-founder AEG, the Los Angeles sports and entertainment company that owns the L.A. Galaxy and other MLS teams, sells off franchises. Last year, the bank got its start in sports financing by making a loan to L.A's Chivas USA.

The bank has bolstered its management in sports lending by hiring F. Glenn Harvey as chief operating officer. Harvey joined the bank last year after serving as senior vice president for Comerica Bank's Entertainment Group Division in Beverly Hills where he was responsible for building one of the largest professional sports banking and finance groups in the country. He worked with numerous professional teams including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Vikings.

Founded in 1946, Broadway Federal has assets totaling $305 million and 68 employees. It has four branches in the L.A. area.

X Factor

Last week, thousands of fans trekked out to the Home Depot Center in Carson, but David Beckham was nowhere to be seen as the Los Angeles Galaxy are in the midst of a road trip. Instead, high flying tricks on skateboards and motorcycles filled the sky as the facility hosted ESPN's X Games XIII.

Those fans and athletes saw the facilities in pristine condition, but they don't necessarily realize the amount of work and precise timing needed to keep venues up to par.

"Versatility is key to our success," said Rod O'Connor, general manager of the Home Depot Center, who seemed relatively relaxed last week, despite the persistent noise of trucks and heavy machinery used to remove 900 truck loads of dirt from the soccer stadium.

Immediately following the Galaxy's game on July 24, construction began on the venues for the X Games. Setting up the facility required 10 days of construction of the dirt track for motorcycle races and the half-pipe for skateboard and bike competitions. The turf was removed from the soccer stadium and dirt was brought in to build the stage for the motorcycle and rally car events. A half-pipe was constructed in the tennis stadium.

But the transition was only half complete. Following the X Games, the tennis and soccer stadiums needed to be transformed back into their original states because the East West Bank Classic women's tennis tournament began on August 6 and the Galaxy have a SuperLiga match semifinal on August 15.

The half-pipe had to be dismantled quickly as the East West Bank Classic women's tennis tournament began less than 48 hours after the X Games finished. Removing dirt from the soccer stadium takes a longer period of time and is slowed because most work is done during the evenings when the tennis tournament has stopped play. The crews can't work during the day because noise from the heavy machinery used to remove the dirt is a distraction to the tennis players and dust is blown into the air that would disturb both players and fans.

Staff reporter David Nusbaum can be reached at (323)549-5225, ext. 236, or at .

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