The fabulous Forum has added a new name to its marquee – Kia.
The Inglewood sports arena-cum-concert venue has struck a deal to put the name of the South Korea-based automaker on the landmark building, the Los Angeles Times reported. A sign bearing its new name, Kia Forum, now hangs outside. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The naming rights to the 55-year-old arena made famous by the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s are the second recent secured by Kia, which also has its name on the open-air tennis stadium that hosts the Australian Open tennis tournament.
It follows other big naming-rights deals in Los Angeles, with residents now tripping over a recent change to Crypto.com Arena, formerly the Staples Center, the Downtown host of the Los Angeles Kings, L.A. Clippers and Lakers. The Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange bought its 20-year naming rights in November for $700 million.
A new Intuit Dome is rising as the new home of the Clippers not far from the Forum in Inglewood. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer owns the team and both buildings, and is in line to get $500 million over 23 years on the deal with Intuit.
The Forum was built in 1967 by Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the Lakers and founding owner of the Kings. The building surrounded by white columns was designed by architect Charles Luckman, and engineered without internal support pillars, a first for such a large arena.
The 18,000-seat arena hosted the Lakers and Kings from 1967 to 1999, a period that saw the Lakers establish a dynasty, winning six NBA championships and 11 Western Conference titles in the 32-year run. All but one was won by the “Showtime” squad led by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.
Clippers’ owner Ballmer bought the Forum from Madison Square Garden in 2020 for $400 million, after MSG spent $100 million on renovations.
MSG filed or backed five lawsuits attempting to block the sale, protesting Ballmer’s plans to construct a new arena for the Clippers nearby. Ballmer is now building a $1-billion Intuit Dome, a few miles from the Kia Forum, to be the new home of the Clippers after the team’s lease at Crypto.com Arena ends in 2024.
The Kia Forum remains a major stop for high-profile artists, with upcoming dates scheduled for Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber and Machine Gun Kelly. In 2019, the arena grossed $104.9 million, the third highest in the world behind Madison Square Garden and the O2 Arena, according to Billboard.
[Los Angeles Times] – Dana Bartholomew