The Forum (aka Great Western Forum)

(2014)* - The Forum located at 3900 Westchester Boulevard, Inglewood, CA. Photo by Ritapepaj / Wikipedia  


Historical Notes

For those living in Los Angeles in the 1970s and '80s, there was only one place to see a rock concert or a sporting event: the "Fabulous" Forum.

Opened in 1967, the Forum rises on its Inglewood site like a modern-day Roman Coliseum. Its financier, Jack Kent Cooke, was a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman turned multi-millionaire who dreamed of building "sports' answer to the Taj Mahal" in Los Angeles.^




(1967)* - Jack Kent Cooke (right), with architect Charles Luckman, during construction of the Forum in Inglewood.  


Historical Notes

The Canadian-born Jack Kent Cooke bought the Lakers in 1965 for $5.2 million. After acquiring the rights to an NHL expansion team, Cooke couldn't reach a deal with the Sports Arena (where the Lakers played). He then built the 17,000-seat, $16 million Forum across the street from Hollywood Park; the Kings debuted there on December 30, 1967. In 1979, Cooke sold the Lakers, the Kings, the Forum (and his California ranch) to Jerry Buss for a reported $67.5 million.*




(1967)^ - The circular building begins to take form as the massive white columns are secured in place. Photo courtesy of Kia Forum  


Historical Notes

The circular building has a façade composed of massive white columns, whose flared capitals form an exterior arcade and an elegant scalloped profile against the sky.

The colonnade supports a reinforced concrete compression ring, from which hangs a cable-suspended roof measuring approximately 407 feet in diameter.

The suspended roof system allows for a massive, open interior space completely free of columnar supports. In 1967, the compression ring at the Forum was one of the largest of its kind in the country.^




(1960s)* - Aerial and closeup view of the Forum and part of its parking area. Location: 3900 West Manchester Boulevard, Inglewood.  


Historical Notes

The round, $16 million building was designed by Los Angeles architect Charles Luckman to evoke the Roman Forum. The arena seats 17,505 for basketball, 16,005 for hockey and up to 18,000 for musical concerts; although it has no luxury suites, it had 2,400 club seats for events. More than 70% of the seats are between the goals, and no seat is more than 170 feet from the playing surface.

The Forum became a landmark in greater Los Angeles, largely due to the Lakers' success and the Hollywood celebrities often seen there. It hosted tennis matches, music concerts, boxing matches and U. S. political events. The arena is sometimes called the "Los Angeles Forum" or the "L. A. Forum" to distinguish it from other places with the name "Forum".*




(1984)^ – Aerial view of the Forum and Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. UCLA Digital Archives  


Historical Notes

The arena is visible on the landing approach to the LAX from the east. With Madison Square Garden, it was once one of the best-known indoor sports venues in the U.S. The Forum achieved its greatest fame as home to the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League from 1967 to 1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center to join the Los Angeles Clippers (who moved to Staples Center from the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena). The Forum was also the home of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks from 1997 to their 2001 move to Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Strings of the World Team Tennis league played home matches at the Forum from 1975 to 1978, led on the court by Chris Evert. The team was owned by Los Angeles businessman Jerry Buss.

In 1979, Cooke sold the Forum, the Lakers and the Kings to Buss for a then-record $67.5 million.*




Great Western Forum

(1997)* - Great Western Forum - home of the LA Lakers and LA Kings. Photo by 'Horge' / Wikipedia  


Historical Notes

In 1988 Jerry Buss sold the arena's naming rights to Great Western Savings & Loan, coinciding with the arrival in Los Angeles of hockey star Wayne Gretzky. The building exterior was repainted blue, replacing its original "California sunset red." It was renamed the Great Western Forum; the name was retained for several years, after Great Western was acquired by Washington Mutual (now Chase) and ceased to exist. Although naming-rights agreements are now commonplace in major American sports, they were rare at the time of Buss's deal with Great Western. There was some initial criticism of the name change, and local residents continued to call the arena "the Forum."  Adverse reaction was eventually muted; Great Western Forum sounded like a natural name because of the arena's location in the western United States.

On April 18, 1999, the Kings played their final regular-season NHL game at the Forum, a 3–2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, on the day that former King and Blue Wayne Gretzky played his final NHL game as a New York Ranger; their last game altogether at the Fabulous Forum was an 8–1 preseason win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on September 20 of that year. Staples Center was still under construction, so the Kings played their remaining preseason home games at the San Diego Sports Arena and the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The Lakers' 118–107 playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs on May 23, 1999 was their last regular or postseason game played at the Forum; they played two preseason games there the following year before they moved to Staples Center.

Faithful Central Bible Church, with a congregation of over 12,000, purchased the Great Western Forum at the end of 2000 and began holding church services there on Sunday mornings. In 2009, the church discontinued the regular use of the Forum for services.^



The Forum Presented by Chase

(ca. 2019)^ - Forum as it appears today.  The arena is formally known as The Forum Presented by Chase, and has previously been known as the Great Western Forum and nicknamed the "Fabulous Forum" by Lakers announcer Chick Hearn. It is also known informally as the L.A. Forum. Photo Courtesy of  


Historical Notes

After acquiring the arena in June 2012, The Madison Square Garden Company announced plans for a $50 million renovation. The City of Inglewood made an $18 million commercial-rehabilitation loan, contingent on MSG's $50 million investment. The arena was renamed "The Forum, presented by Chase" to reflect its sponsor, Chase Bank (which had incidentally purchased Great Western's legal successor, Washington Mutual, a few years earlier), and its exterior returned to the original red. New features also included new lighting, new seating, LED video systems and HD screen and new retail.

During the late 2010s, Steve Ballmer, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, announced plans to build a new arena blocks away from The Forum. The Clippers' current lease at the Staples Center expires in 2024, and Ballmer is hoping that the team can have its own basketball-specific arena.

In March 2020, Steve Ballmer purchased The Forum for $400 million.  The Forum will continue to host concerts, and all venue employees who held jobs under the Madison Square Garden Company were offered jobs by Ballmer. The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, intended by Ballmer to serve as the new home for the LA Clippers, will be built as originally planned (2020’s).^


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