New owners unveil $70 million makeover plan for the Forum, former home of Los Angeles Lakers

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The Forum, where the likes of Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones played to thousands of screaming fans, wants to rock again with a $70 million makeover that its new owner hopes will draw the biggest names in pop music.

Madison Square Garden Co. planned to announced details of the upgrade on Tuesday that include repainting the outside to match its original “California sunset red” shade, installing a new centre floor ring that can hold 350,000 pounds, and putting in 17,500 red velvet, theatre-style seats, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/13uJ2YO ).

Under a corporate sponsorship deal with Chase bank, new signage will read “The Forum Presented by Chase.” The venue is scheduled to reopen Jan. 15 with The Eagles performing for three nights.

The Forum, with its 72 Roman-inspired exterior columns, opened in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood in 1967. It was a premier venue for sports and concerts in the 1970s and 1980s but it was supplanted when the more modern Staples Center opened in 1999 in downtown Los Angeles.

The Lakers and Kings jumped ship for Staples, which also got the Clippers and became a major arena for pop concerts.

The Forum was taken over by the Faithful Central Bible Church in 2000 but continued to languish. MSG bought it last year for $23.5 million.

The cost of the purchase and building improvements is approaching $100 million, MSG Executive Chairman James L. Dolan told the Times.

The goal is to compete with Staples, which must juggle sports and other events, by becoming the nation’s largest indoor facility designed to focus mainly on music shows, although a few sporting events may be held there.

“When it was a professional sports arena and a concert arena, it had to serve those two masters,” Dolan said. “Now it’s constant entertainment and there’s no compromise.”

Dolan declined to say how many shows MSG expects to book at the Forum annually.

“It’s a little bit ‘Field of Dreams’ — build it and they will come,” he said.

Staples Center’s owner isn’t worried and believes that it will remain Southern California’s premier destination for live entertainment, Anschutz Entertainment Group President and Chief Executive Dan Beckerman said.

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