The forum, shown here in 1987, will get a new owner and an upgrade, it was announced Tuesday. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The Forum, the once-proud regional sports and entertainment complex that has fallen on hard times, will get a new owner and a big facelift under a deal announced Tuesday.
The Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) said it has purchased the Inglewood arena for $23.5 million.
The arena was home to the Lakers and Kings for 32 years until both moved to the Staples Center in 1999. Elvis Presley performed there, and so did Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.
Supporters of the deal hope that the purchase and an anticipated renovation will breathe new life into the aging Forum and surrounding communities, which suffered when the sports and entertainment events previously held there moved downtown.
"When the sports teams left, our city’s pride and persona went with it," said Inglewood Mayor James Butts. "This renovation is going to put us back on the map."
Butts said the deal has been in the works for 13 months. Madison Square Garden has promised to devote a minimum of $50 million to restoring the venue.
Renovations are scheduled to begin later this year, although the company has not yet released the specifics.
"We will bring the same attention to detail in our renovation of the Forum, resulting in a world-class venue that will be the place for music in Los Angeles," said Hank J. Ratner, president and CEO of MSG said in a press release.
The company has a history of renovating its properties, including New York’s Beacon Theatre in 2009 and the Garden, which is currently undergoing a $1 billion facelift.
The company’s purchase of the Forum is its first property on the West Coast, giving entertainment juggernaut AEG competition in the region. AEG declined to comment on this story.
"The addition of the Forum is a perfect complement to the Madison Square Garden Arena," said Ratner. "It now allows us to have world-class venues in both New York and Los Angeles, linking the top two entertainment markets in the country."
The company owns some of the country’s most famous theaters, arenas, and sports franchises, including Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks.
The facility’s current owner is the Faithful Central Bible Church, which uses it for religious services and concerts. Church officials have said that maintaining the facility had become difficult.
Inglewood has set aside $18 million in redevelopment funds for MSG to use on this project as long as the company spends the $50 million that it promised to devote to the Forum’s refurbishment.
As part of its agreement with the city of Inglewood, Madison Square Garden has promised to allow rent-free use of the Forum for some charitable causes and promote the hiring of local residents for construction jobs and other positions.
"Now over 300 construction jobs will be created in addition to another 250 at the Forum," said Butts. "Use of the facility has been sporadic and this should change that."