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Downtown sports gridlock? 4 teams, 5 playoff games this weekend

Staples Center
May 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Four local pro sports teams are all in action this coming weekend in the downtown Los Angeles area, including five playoff games, plus a tradeshow. That has led to fears of traffic gridlock. Fans will be converging on Dodger Stadium, Staples Center and L.A. Live.

Outside Staples Center Monday, it was the calm before the storm. No events are scheduled from Monday through Wednesday of this week, but starting Thursday, there will be six playoff games in four days: two each for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings.

"This is probably, in my 25-year career, the most exciting thing I've ever been part of," said Lee Zeidman, Staples Center senior vice president. "I don't believe you will ever see anything like this at any arena anywhere except duplicated potentially here because we're the only arena with two NBA teams in it."

Zeidman says Sunday will be the be-all-end-all. Because of TV contracts, the NBA wanted Staples Center to host Game 4 of the Clippers-Spurs series at 7:30; Game 4 between the Kings and Phoenix Coyotes starts at noon.

It takes about two hours to convert from hockey to basketball and clean up the million-square-foot arena, and another 90 minutes for basketball players to warm up.

So if the hockey game goes into overtime (and half of the Coyotes' playoff games have already gone to overtime), Zeidman will become a very nervous man. He says if the hockey game goes past 4, the Clipper game will likely start late.

"If you go two, three, four overtimes, you could have 20,000 people in the building going out with 20,000 people waiting at those doors to come in for the Clipper game as well," said Zeidman.

As if that isn't enough, the Amgen Tour Bike Race finishes up Sunday on Figueroa, right outside of Staples Center, about 15 minutes before the puck drops in the Kings game.

Streets will be blocked off, creating traffic problems for fans and local residents.

"We want everybody to come early and stay late," said Zeidman. "Make a day of it. In fact, if you've got tickets to all six games in four days, I'd hang out here the entire time."

Fans are advised to arrive early. Kings fans can get into Staples Center Sunday as early as 9 a.m. Bridges for foot traffic will be installed over Figueroa, and parking will be available at L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the Sports Arena with free shuttle service to Staples Center.

The L.A. Convention Center is also hosting a trade show, further crowding downtown.


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