Ice To Court And Back Again At L.A.'s Staples Center

May 15, 2012
Originally published on May 15, 2012 4:46 pm
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Question: When was the golden age of professional sports in Los Angeles? Answer: Think about this weekend. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers are both in Western Conference Semifinal Series in the National Basketball Association and the Los Angeles Kings are in the Western Conference Finals of the National Hockey League.

I could throw in the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place in baseball's National League West, but unlike the others, they play at Dodger Stadium, which means that in the golden age weekend just ahead, they are not the concern of Lee Zeidman. His concern is that the Kings, the Clippers and the Lakers all play at the Staples Center in L.A. in the course of three days. He's the Staples Center's senior vice president and general manager and joins us now.

Welcome to the program.

LEE ZEIDMAN: Thank you very much, Robert.

SIEGEL: And, just quickly, what does the next weekend look like for you?

ZEIDMAN: Well, we're going to start Thursday night with the Kings playing Phoenix at 6:00 p.m. We'll move right into Friday night with the Lakers coming back for game three against Oklahoma City at 7:30 p.m. And then, Saturday, it starts the big challenges. The Lakers and Clippers will both play on Saturday. Clippers will play 12:30 and then we'll flip the courts and the Lakers will come back to play at 7:30 that night.

Then we have the real kicker. The Kings will play game four against Phoenix at 12:00 noon on Sunday, followed by the Clippers at 7:30, but it doesn't end there. We have the AMGEN Tour of California, stage eight, that's taking place just outside of Staples Center, which will shut down some of the streets of Los Angeles.

SIEGEL: That's a bicycle race.

ZEIDMAN: Yes, it is.

SIEGEL: What is the going record for the Staples Center at converting the arena from hockey to basketball or basketball to hockey?

ZEIDMAN: From basketball to basketball, we can do it in about an hour and 15 minutes. When you go from hockey to basketball or basketball to hockey, it's just a little bit over two hours, but what people don't realize is that, while we can convert the building to get the playing surfaces ready, this is a million square feet. You've got to clean that. You've got 168 suites that you've got to restock and you've got 53 concession stands that you have to have fully ready to go for the next 20,000 people coming into the building.

SIEGEL: Let's just focus on Sunday for a second. When you have this huge bike race outside the Staples Center, will the bike event be over by the evening when the basketball game begins?

ZEIDMAN: The bike event will end right around 11:50, 12:00 noon. They'll do their awards ceremony and they'll start breaking down about 1:00, so we believe that's not going to affect the Clipper ingress. What my big concern is is if that hockey game runs late and it gets to be 4:30, quarter to 5:00, 6:00, we could have 20,000 people leaving the arena from the hockey game with another 20,000 people coming for the Clipper game standing outside our doors.

SIEGEL: You sound very upbeat about all this, about the weekend. No anxiety here that those concession stands are going to be out of everything by the time you're halfway through this weekend or that - God forbid, needing an ambulance at the place on Sunday - might be impossible to get through with all this happening?

ZEIDMAN: I have a tremendous amount of anxiety. I'm not sleeping very well right now. We don't have enough time for me to tell you all the things that could possibly go wrong or delay anything that takes place over these next four days.

SIEGEL: Am I correct in assuming that perhaps part of your upbeat sound is you're very heavily caffeinated at this point to stay up?

ZEIDMAN: I'm trying to get some sleep at night, so I'm holding back on the caffeine. Listen, it's going to be perfect storm in my business. I am telling you, Robert, I do not believe that this will ever happen anywhere else except for here.

SIEGEL: Lee Zeidman, it's great to talk with you. Thank you very much.

ZEIDMAN: Thank you very much for having me.

SIEGEL: Lee Zeidman is the general manager and senior vice president of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Kings. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.