NHL Season Replaced At Staples Center

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — When the National Hockey League cancelled this year’s entire season, the owners of luxury box suites at facilities like the Fleet Center in Boston got a refund for part of the $200,000 they spent to see sports at the venue. They were still entitled to tickets to Celtics games, and refunded for the lost Bruins games.

An even more generous accommodation was made to Arrowhead Pond suite holders in Anaheim, California, when the facility offered a refund or credit, with 5-percent interest, on money they paid to see the Mighty Ducks play.

Suite holders at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, however, haven’t seen a dime. Bills sent out for the 2005-2006 season, which includes the Lakers, Clippers and many other games and events, did not mention any credit or refund for the 41 lost L.A. Kings home games.

According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, prices went up by between 3- and 7-percent, to as high as $360,000 for one of the 160 suites in the Staples Center. All without any guarantee of an NHL season this year either.

The agreement between suite holders and the facility guarantees 150 events per year, which the facility plans has committed to, even without hockey.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, who manages the facility, have already scheduled nearly 40 concerts, the most they’ve ever held there, and secured the X Games, the Women’s Tennis Association Championships, and the Pac-10 men’s basketball championships and boxing matches.

“Am I saying at the end of the day that I feel like we have completely made it up to them? No,” President and CEO of AEG Tim Leiweke told the paper. “I’m not askin them to do back flips because we missed hockey. But the majority of suite holders I’ve talked to are very aware of how aggressive we’ve been to fill in the blanks and they’re very appreciative of that.”

Despite many concerns from patrons, AEG officials have maintained that their suite customers are still getting a better value than at any other arena nationwide. The venue will host nearly 200 events during the current billing cycle and officials anticipate hosting close to 250 events next year if hockey returns.

The suite holders at the Staples Center will pay between $250,000 to $360,000 for the upcoming 2005-2006 season, depending on the box location and whether the suite has 8, 10, 12, or 14 seats. The length of the contract and how long the customer has been a suite holder also factors into the price.

“There are many events – and I mean many – that we ultimately go out and get and take a loss on – boxing in particular,” Leiweke told the paper. “The reason we (schedule them), in large part, is value added to our suite holders. We were more aggressive this year than ever before with boxing and concerts to make up for the loss of the Kings dates.”

So far, no suite holders have given up their box to anyone on the long waiting list at the facility. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers