Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena closes after nearly 57 years

ByLeanne Suter and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Friday, May 13, 2016
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena closes after nearly 57 years
City leaders held a ceremony Thursday to bid farewell to the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, which has closed after nearly 57 years.

EXPOSITION PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After nearly 57 years, the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena closed permanently Thursday.

City leaders held a closing ceremony to bid the iconic venue farewell. The building that Bruce Springsteen affectionately dubbed "the dump that jumps" was sent off with one last national anthem and a champagne toast.

"We are celebrating its glorious past and looking forward to an even more glorious future," L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said.

The arena, which played host to some of the 20th century's biggest moments in sports, politics and rock 'n' roll, closed to make way for the construction of a $250 million soccer stadium, a museum, restaurants, and retail and office space.

"This was the original home of the Lakers before the Forum was built. The Clippers called it home for a number of years. John F. Kennedy - the Democratic convention in 1960, so it has a special place," said Joe Furin, the arena's general manager.

The project is expected to create thousands of jobs and generate almost $130 million annually from stadium operations.

"The history that is here is great, but transformation is great too," said former city councilman Tom LaBonge, who emceed the closing ceremony.

For Welton McDonald Becket, it's a bittersweet day. His father built the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena along with many of L.A.'s iconic buildings.

"Of course, I'm not for it, but I see that it's progress and the sports arena has outlived its time. It's 57 years old and most buildings' lifelines are 50 years," Becket said.

Demolition of the arena is set for next month, and the new stadium is expected to be completed by March 2018.