Great Western Forum

From Academic Kids

The Great Western Forum, known in Los Angeles simply as The Forum, is an indoor arena in Inglewood, California. It was the home of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL's Los Angeles Kings from 1967 to 1999, when the Staples Center was opened, and for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks from 1997 until they too moved to the Staples Center in 2002.

The Fabulous Forum, as it was originally called, was constructed by Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Lakers and founding owner of the Kings, in 1967. The oval-shaped, $16 million structure was named for and designed to evoke the Roman Forum. The arena seats 17,505 for basketball, 16,005 for ice hockey, and up to 18,000 for concerts; it has no luxury suites, but held an unprecedented 2,400 club seats for events. In excess of 70 percent of the seats were located between the goals, and no seat was more than 170 feet from the playing surface.

The Forum became a landmark in the Greater Los Angeles Area, in large measure from the success of the Lakers and from the Hollywood celebrities often sighted in its audiences. It hosted a vast number of events such as tennis matches, rock concerts, boxing matches, ice shows, rodeos, and political events.

In 1979, Cooke sold it to Jerry Buss along with the Lakers and the Kings for a then-record $67.5 million. Buss sold the naming rights to Great Western Savings & Loan, and the name was retained even after Great Western was purchased by another S&L, Downey, and after Downey itself was acquired by Washington Mutual.

By the early 1990s, the arena was among the oldest used for professional basketball (although not as old as the Los Angeles Clippers' home, the Los Angeles Sports Arena). It was considered too small, and more importantly lacked premium skyboxes and sufficient retail and commercial space. City officials seeking to redevelop the downtown area received the support of Buss and Clippers co-owner Edward Roski to move both the Clippers and the Lakers to the new Staples Center when it was completed in the autumn of 1999. Blaming the venue for low attendance, the Sparks followed them in 2002.

The Forum still stands today. Faithful Central Bible Church, home to a predominantly African-American congregation numbering over 12,000, purchased the building and holds its regular service there each Sunday morning. The church makes the building available for rent (for concerts/sporting events/etc. that require that type of large venue) on other days.

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