Madison Square Garden is unveiling renovation plans for its first west coast venue, the once-fabulous Forum in Inglewood. The company hopes the upgrades will turn it back into a premier venue for major concerts and steal some of the limelight (and money) back from the Staples Center. The two venues will seat roughly the same number of people, but where Staples is hulking, soulless, and full of corporate boxes, the Forum hopes to compete with its history, more intimate feel, and a calendar uncluttered by all those pesky sports teams (in addition to the finest in touring arena rock, Staples is home to the Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, and Kings). The LA Times reports that the venue will reopen in January with a three-night stand from the Eagles.
In the meantime, the exterior is being repainted red with white columns, the interior will get matching plush red theater seats, and all the systems are being upgraded. According to a press release, "the interior of the bowl will be completely modernized and feature flexible seating, ranging from 17,500 seats to 8,000 seats." There will also be new food and beverage options, a "sky deck," a "re-imagined" Forum Club for VIPs "with thematic music-inspired detailing," and the Chase Lounge only "accessible through select affiliations with Chase" (Chase will be a major sponsor, with signage everywhere). The $70-million upgrade will also strengthen the floor to "accommodate contemporary concert production needs."
While the improvements will make the Forum more technologically advanced than Staples, owner AEG is not worried about its dominance; it's confident that Staples "will remain Southern California's premier live entertainment." At least they're being less obnoxious about it than they were when the sale to MSG was announced last year.
The Forum was designed by Charles Luckman, built by Laker owner Jack Kent Cooke as a home for his team, and opened in 1967. In addition to seeing the team through the Showtime 1980s, the Forum "quickly established itself as one of the nation's two leading rock concert arenas"--the other being Madison Square Garden, also designed by Luckman and opened one year later. The Forum hosted "Led Zeppelin 16 times as well as performances by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Nirvana, Prince and dozens of other rock, pop, country and R&B acts."
MSG has guaranteed the city of Inglewood at least $675,000 a year in revenue from parking, ticket, and concession taxes. Which is better than nothing, but still less than the $800,000 a year the venue generated before Staples opened. But the sale also re-jump-started the major Hollywood Park redevelopment nearby, so maybe Inglewood's luck is turning?
· The Forum aims to rock rival Staples with major renovation [LAT]
· The Forum's legacy: A key force in the birth of arena rock [LAT]
· Deal Approved For Madison Square Garden to Buy The Forum [Curbed LA]