Here’s one little-noticed ramification from the NBA lockout that ended last month: The compressed basketball season is forcing Staples Center to host 127 events in 124 days beginning Christmas Day.
That includes Lakers, Clippers and Kings games, plus a few concerts and special events such as the Harlem Globetrotters and Grammy Awards.
The downtown L.A. venue actually has 12 dates double-booked with either two basketball games or a hockey game and basketball game, with the busiest stretch March 16-18, when there are five games over 47 hours.
“It’s going to be very hectic,” said Lee Zeidman, Staples Center general manager. “It’s a tremendous amount of work for employees who missed 29 workdays.”
The venue, owned by AEG, a downtown L.A.-based subsidiary of Anschutz Co., missed 29 dates due to the National Basketball Association’s lockout that ended Dec. 8. Now, as the league makes up for lost time, it has scheduled more games than usual for the remainder of its season.
That means a lot more work for the venue’s 167 full- and 1,022 part-time employees, many of whom will be receiving overtime pay when there are two events scheduled on the same day. For example, switching from basketball to hockey requires removing the wooden court, which is laid right over the ice. Even successive basketball games are a challenge, since the Lakers and Clippers have their own floors.
The craziness will end with the completion of the NBA regular season April 26. Despite the heavy booking, Staples Center still has nine dates available on its calendar through then. And Zeidman would like to book them.
The compressed NBA regular season is 16 games shorter than the normal 82, and currently the venue will not make its budget for the year unless more events are scheduled. One solution would be if the Lakers, Clippers or Kings make an extended postseason run – better yet if two or all three do.
“If we can book a few more events and manage expenses, we will have a good chance at making our numbers,” he said.
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