The Forum (known for a 15-year period as the Great Western Forum) is an indoor arena, in Inglewood, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. From 2000 to 2010, it was owned by the Faithful Central Bible Church, which occasionally used it for church services, while also leasing the building for sporting events, concerts and other events.
Along with Madison Square Garden, it was one of the most well-known indoor sports venues in the world, during its time operating as a major venue. The Forum achieved its greatest fame as the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, of the NBA and of the Los Angeles Kings, of the NHL from 1967–1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center. The building was also the home of the Los Angeles Sparks, of the WNBA, from 1997, until they too moved to Staples Center in 2001.
The Forum was the site of the 1972 and 1983 NBA All-Star Games, the 1981 NHL All-Star Game, Basketball at the 1984 Summer Olympics and hosted the Big West Conference men's basketball tournament from 1983–1988 and also the 1989 Pacific-10 Conference men's basketball tournament.
The Forum is located at 3900 West Manchester Boulevard, across 90th Street (re-dedicated as Pincay Drive in December 2003) and to the north of the Hollywood Park racetrack and casino, about three miles east of Los Angeles International Airport. It is a prominent feature on the landing approach to the airport from the east.
1960s and 70s
Situated on a former golf course, The "Fabulous" Forum, as it would become colloquially known to locals, was constructed in 1967 by Jack Kent Cooke, then-owner of the Lakers and founding owner of the Kings. The circular, US$16 million structure was designed by renowned Los Angeles architect Charles Luckman and was intended to evoke the Roman Forum. The arena seats 17,505, for basketball, 16,005, for ice hockey and up to 18,000 for concerts; it has no luxury suites, but held an unprecedented 2,400 club seats for events. In excess of 70 percent of the seats were located between the goals and no seat is more than 170 feet from the playing surface.
The Forum became a landmark in the Greater Los Angeles Area, in large measure from the success of the Lakers and from the Hollywood celebrities often sighted in its audiences. It hosted a vast number of events such as tennis matches, concerts, boxing matches, and political events. It is sometimes referred to as the "Los Angeles Forum" or "L.A. Forum" to differentiate it from other buildings, venues and places carrying the name "Forum".
Cream performed during their Farewell Tour on October 18, 1968, with Deep Purple as their opening act. Deep Purple recorded their part of the show, which was later released as a live album, entitled Inglewood – Live in California.
Steppenwolf performed on July 14, 1969, with Three Dog Night as their opening act. TDN recorded their part of the show, which was later released as a live album, entitled Captured Live at the Forum.
Between 1970-1977, Led Zeppelin played at The Forum 16 times (their live album, How the West Was Won was partly recorded at the venue), including a run of 6 sold-out dates in 1977; one of these shows comprises the famous bootleg, Listen To This Eddie (Eddie Van Halen, prior to the release of Van Halen's first album, was reported to be among those in attendance).
In July 1970, The Jackson 5 broke attendance records at The Forum, performing a concert with 18,675 paid admissions, grossing US$105,000 (US$Template:Format price in 2021 dollarsTemplate:Inflation-fn).
On November 14, 1970, Elvis Presley did two shows (one in the afternoon, another one in the evening) with 18,700 and 18,698 paid admissions. This was during Elvis' second tour. He would return his 10th tour, to perform for two more sold out shows on May 11, 1974 (with 18,500 paid admissions each).
Barbra Streisand recorded her Live Concert at the Forum there on April 15, 1972.
Jethro Tull played 5 sold out shows in one week, from February 3rd-4th and 8th-10th, 1975, the first time an artist had done so in the history of the arena.
The Bee Gees performed during their Children of the World Tour on December 20, 1976, the show was recorded for their first live album, in their, then, 12-year career, entitled Here at Last... Bee Gees... Live.
Parliament-Funkadelic recorded half of their live album, Live: P-Funk Earth Tour, here on January 19, 1977.
KISS performed, on two consecutive nights, during their Love Gun Tour on August 26–28, 1977, the shows were recorded for their second live album, entitled Alive II. CORRECTION , KISS played 3 consecutive sold out nights at The Forum during the Love Gun Tour, August 26, 27, 28 1977...
In 1979, Cooke sold The Forum, along with the Lakers and the Kings, to Jerry Buss for a then-record $67.5 million.
The Lakers experienced a tremendous run of success in the 1980s, winning five NBA Championships and making the NBA Finals every year but two (1981 and 1986), both times being defeated by the Houston Rockets. This level of success raised The Forum's profile greatly across the sporting world, as fans became accustomed to watching playoff games and other important games played there by the Lakers.
In April 1982, The Forum was the site of the Miracle on Manchester, in which the Kings completed the largest comeback in NHL playoff history, going from being down 5-0 to win the game 6-5 in overtime over the Edmonton Oilers. Combined with upset wins in Games 1 and 5, the Kings eliminated the heavily favored Oilers in a 3-2 series victory to reach the second round.
Queen returned and concluded the US leg of their Hot Space Tour here, with two consecutive shows on September 14–15, 1982, with Billy Squier as their opening act. These marked Queen's final live performances in the US, before the death of lead vocalist Freddie Mercury in 1991 and the retirement of bass guitarist John Deacon in 1997, until the Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour, 23 years later, in 2005.
The Forum played host to Amnesty International's A Conspiracy of Hope Benefit Concert on June 6, 1986. The show was headlined by U2 and Sting and also featured Bryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez and The Neville Brothers.
KISS were scheduled to return during their Crazy Nights Tour on March 31, 1988, but the show was cancelled.
In December 1988, Buss capitalized on all of this success by selling the arena's naming rights to Great Western Savings & Loan. This also coincided with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in Los Angeles, which greatly increased the profile of the building's other tenant, the Kings. The exterior of the building was repainted blue from the original "Roman red" color, and the building was officially renamed the "Great Western Forum", and that name was retained for several years, even after Great Western was acquired by Washington Mutual (now JPMorgan Chase) and ceased to exist. Such naming rights deals eventually became commonplace in major American sports, but were not so at the time of Buss' deal with Great Western. There was some initial negative public reaction to the changing of the venue's historic name, and most local residents continued to refer to the arena as simply "The Forum". However, the adverse reaction was eventually somewhat muted by the fact that the new name of "Great Western Forum" sounded rather like a natural name for the arena, given its location in the western United States. So much so that many people, particularly among those outside the Los Angeles area, remained unaware that the name was the result of a naming rights deal. To this day, many residents of the Los Angeles area still refer to the building as the Great Western Forum.
Janet Jackson performed four sold-out shows during her Rhythm Nation World Tour on April 20–21 and 25-26, 1990, they sold out in 48 minutes.
Guns N' Roses played their longest show of the Use Your Illusion Tour on July 3rd, 1991, which lasted three and a half hours.
Before the 1991–92 NBA and NHL seasons, a new, modern scoreboard was installed, replacing the one that had been in use since the building opened in 1967. The original scoreboard, designed by All American Scoreboards in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, contained a two-line messageboard on each side, the third electronic messageboard in the NHL (and the second in the NBA); the new scoreboard, designed by Daktronics, kept the two-line messageboards but now incorporated a Sony JumboTron videoboard on each side. However, by the middle of the decade, the Great Western Forum was still regarded as too small, and more importantly, it lacked premium skyboxes and sufficient retail and commercial space. Los Angeles officials, seeking to redevelop that city's downtown area, began planning for a new sports arena and entertainment complex to be located there, with an eye toward wooing the Lakers and Kings away from Inglewood.
The Kings' owners (who did substantial business as real estate developers) agreed to develop the complex, eventually given the name "Staples Center", and signed Buss on to move the Lakers into the new arena as a co-tenant with the Kings (as well as a third tenant, the Clippers, who would move there from the Los Angeles Sports Arena). The new arena was to open in the autumn of 1999 and, as part of this deal, Buss sold the Great Western Forum to L.A. Arena Co. (a company also owned by the Kings' owners).
Nirvana played a sold-out show on December 30, 1993. This would be their final Los Angeles-area performance. The version of "Heart Shaped Box", from the December 30th show, is included on their live album, From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah.
AC/DC returned and concluded the 1st US leg of their Ballbreaker World Tour on February 21, 1996. Originally scheduled for February 1, the show was postponed, so lead vocalist Brian Johnson could attend his father's funeral.
In 1999, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith, opened at the Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) in Walt Disney World. The ride is depicted as a wild-drive through Los Angeles, via stretched limousine, to The Forum, for an Aerosmith concert.
The Lakers' 118–107 playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs on May 23, 1999 was the last meaningful Lakers' game played in the Forum. The Lakers would play two more preseason games at the Forum the following season before moving into the brand-new Staples Center.
On February 14th, 2003, Phish kicked off their first post-hiatus tour at the Forum. In addition to a fan jumping up on stage to give a message of love during the song AC/DC Bag, the Vermont four piece performed a cover of the Dr. Hook classic [The Cover of the Rolling Stone]. The band had recently made their first and only cover of the popular publication.
Iron Maiden performed on 02/19/08 and recorded part of their Flight 666 documentary here. They recorded their famous track "Number of the Beast" live for their documentary.
The Great Western Forum housed the regular live events as well as the offices and training facilities for the 2000-2001 syndicated television series WOW! Women of Wrestling.
Faithful Central Bible Church, home to a predominantly African-American numbering over 12,000, purchased the Great Western Forum at the end of 2000 and began holding its regular service there each Sunday morning. However, Faithful Central representatives have said that their intention in purchasing the arena was never to convert into a religious building, and in 2009, the church discontinued regular use of The Forum for its church services.
Under Faithful Central, the building has continued to be made available for rent for concerts, sporting events and other activities that require that type of large venue. As such, ownership is held through the church's for-profit entity, Forum Enterprises, Inc., which continues to welcome to the arena mainstream and secular fare, including concerts by well-known secular and popular music artists. At times, however, the church's ownership of the building has influenced the approval of specific performers for the venue, such as in 2005 and 2009, when The Forum refused to allow performances by the heavy metal band Lamb of God because the band's former name had been "Burn the Priest".
In 2003, Great Western's naming rights contract on the building expired and Forum Enterprises reverted the venue's official name to the original "The Forum". Despite this and despite the fact that Great Western had in 1997 ceased to exist as a separate entity, the Great Western corporate logo and the letters forming the words GREAT WESTERN initially remained on the building's exterior. Great Western's exterior lettering was finally removed from the building in 2006.
The venue continues to be made available for film use, such as arena interior shots used in the 2002 film Like Mike. Rock band Foo Fighters used the building as the setting and filming location in the music video for the song "All My Life" in 2003, prominently featuring the outside architecture and name of the building in the opening and closing shots. In 2008, a scene for the 2009 feature film Hannah Montana: The Movie was filmed outside The Forum, as was the video for the Weezer song "Troublemaker" from their 2008 album The Red Album. More recently, the venue was featured in the video game Guitar Hero: Metallica.
In May and June 2009, Michael Jackson rehearsed at the Forum for his planned This Is It concert series in London. After the singer passed away on 25 June 2009, footage of these rehearsals, along with those from the Staples Center, formed part of the motion picture Michael Jackson's This Is It released by Sony Pictures in October 2009.
On October 9, 2009, the Lakers returned to the Forum for a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors to celebrate the start of the team's 50th season in Los Angeles. The Lakers lost 110-91. Because the scoreboard had been torn down during its use as a church, a temporary scoreboard and video monitor was brought in for the game.
The Forum was the location of the Los Angeles auditions for the 10th season of American Idol on September 22, 2010.
It also hosted a sold-out show from the German band Rammstein on their first North American Tour in over 10 years on May 20, 2011.
The Forum is currently being used as a location by the Matthew Perry series Mr. Sunshine. It acts as a stand-in for the fictional Sunshine Center.
Over six weeks (April 14 to May 29, 2011), Prince performed 15 shows of his so-called "21 Nite Stand" at The Forum on his Welcome 2 America tour.
- Lewis, Randy; Boucher, Geoff (December 10, 2010). "L.A. Forum poised to reenter spotlight". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/10/entertainment/la-et-forum-sale-20101210. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
- Heisler, Mark. Madmen's Ball: The Inside Story of the Lakers' Dysfunctional Dynasties (2004) ISBN 1-57243-681-6
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- 1984 Summer Olympics official report. Volume 1. Part 1. pp. 102-4.
- Horovitz, Bruce. (1988, December 6). "They're Banking That It's a Great Advertising Forum", Los Angeles Times
- Sanders, Edmund. (2000, August 19). "High Price of Naming Rights Sometimes Worth It", Los Angeles Times
"The Great Western Forum was one of the nation's first sports venues to cut a corporate sponsorship deal when it did so in 1988."
- Sanders. "Great Western, for example, never convinced Southern Californians to embrace the bank's name when referring to the former Forum in Inglewood despite its $17.8-million sponsorship deal."
- Zitner, Arron. (1993, May 15). "A BANK SHOT FOR NEW GARDEN HIGH-INTEREST BIDDING TO NAME ARENA REPORTEDLY YIELDS SHAWMUT CENTER", Boston Globe
"'I don't believe I've heard anyone on the street call it the Great Western Forum', Kupper said."
- Downey, Mike. (1989, June 21). "Event Names No Longer Are Givens", Los Angeles Times
"I was simply happy that the banking company's name blended in so nicely. After all, some other bank could have bought the joint. The Lakers just have easily could have ended up playing in the Security Pacific Forum, or the Mitsui Manufacturers Forum, or even the Downey Savings Forum."
- "History of the Lakers". http://www.nba.com/lakers/history/lakers_history_new.html. Retrieved 17 July 2010. "The arrival of Shaquille O'Neal necessitated the trading of longtime center Vlade Divac, and the trading or renouncement of several other veterans"
- Crowe, Jerry. (2009, May 17). "A funny thing happened along the way to the Forum", Los Angeles Times