Just over 20 years ago, the Lakers opened Staples Center with a championship, the first of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s three-peat. A little over two decades later, the building has been home to the team through six titles, albeit with the most recent one being won at Disney World as the league finished the 2019-20 season in the NBA bubble.
But as the Lakers attempt to defend that title and host their first playoff game in Staples Center since 2013 on Thursday, the team and the arena had an announcement to make: After two decades that’s seen a lot of on and off-court success for their partnership, they’re extending it for two more.
From the team’s press release:
Seventeen-time NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers and AEG, the owners of STAPLES Center, have signed a long-term lease extension agreement ensuring that the defending World Champions will remain in their downtown Los Angeles home arena through the 2041 season.
Since beginning their first season on November 3, 1999 at the iconic venue, the Lakers have achieved the most successful two decades in franchise history, posting both regular season (987-780) and playoff (139-79) records during that time on the way to winning six NBA championships, including last season’s record tying 17th title in the NBA bubble.
Separately, AEG and the Lakers confirmed their plans to make a wide array of significant capital improvements and upgrades throughout STAPLES Center.
“We are excited to extend our partnership with AEG. STAPLES Center ranks as one of the best arenas in the world to play and watch basketball and we are thrilled to be able to call it home for another two decades,” said Jeanie Buss, Governor, Los Angeles Lakers. The decision was made first and foremost with our fans and players in mind and AEG’s commitment to investing significant capital in the arena means that the Lakers will continue to play in one of the world’s premier venues. From the very beginning, AEG proved to be more than just the best arena operators in our industry, and on a daily basis they continue demonstrating why they are the best partner an organization could ask for.”
The most notable thing there, other than Buss’ excitement? The “capital improvements” the team and arena are announcing, renovations that David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times provided more details on when he broke the news of the lease extension on Thursday morning:
While no construction details have been announced, the refurbishments will be overseen by the arena’s original designers and could begin within several years. They will focus on creating spaces where people can gather away from their seats, continuing to watch the game either on television monitors or by looking directly over the floor.
As Wharton notes, this was a deal Staples Center was extremely motivated to get done, keeping its crown jewel tenant in the building and avoiding any possibility of having no basketball teams calling the building home with the LA Clippers set to depart for their own arena in Inglewood by 2024.
The Lakers could have potentially made more money by following suit and building their own arena where they would control all the profits, but Lakers senior vice president of business operations Tim Harris told Wharton that they saw more benefits to remaining in Staples than leaving:
“Look, we always wanted to stay at Staples,” Harris said. “We’d grown up with the building.”
Beyond money, the painful experience of leaving the iconic Forum came into play while weighing staying at Staples.
“That was emotionally difficult for the fans,” Harris said. “Change is hard. We really were cognizant of not upsetting the fan base.”
Now, everyone gets what they want. Staples Center gets to keep its basketball team that the city actually likes, the Lakers don’t have to pack up all their banners or worry about some insecure team covering them up, and LeBron James doesn’t have to move his Blaze Pizza to whatever new arena the Lakers would have hypothetically called home. It’s the rare win-win-win.
But what renovations would you like to see Staples Center make? Are you excited about this news? Let us know in the comments below.