Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Center That Never Sleeps

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Center That Never Sleeps

Article excerpt

There will be blood -- and sweat and pucks and balls and spokes and triumph and anguish and a bit of Thunder -- all on a single street corner, all in a frantic and fascinating 72 hours in downtown Los Angeles.

Lakers and Clippers will mix with Kings and Coyotes, while 120,000 screaming fans descend, in waves, on Staples Center, the city's gleaming downtown arena.

Starting tonight, the building will host six playoff games in four days: two by the NHL's Kings and two each the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, with doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday. Before it is all over, 120 cyclists competing in the Tour of California will race across a finish line not far from the blue line.

It might be the most intense concentration of elite competition in a single arena in modern history -- or "any building in the history of the world," quipped Michael Roth, the Staples Center spokesman.

The joyful madness begins at 6 tonight Pacific Time, when the Kings host the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. The next night, at 7:30 p.m., the Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder will play Game 3 of a Western Conference semifinal series.

Then things get truly hectic.

The Clippers begin an all-basketball doubleheader on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., when they host the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal. The Lakers and the Thunder tipoff again at 7:30 that night.

On Sunday, the Kings and Coyotes drop the puck at noon, just 7 1/ 2 hours before the Clippers and Spurs play again.

"Unprecedented," Lee Zeidman, the arena's general manager, said of the schedule. "It could never be duplicated anywhere else."

Of course, no other arena is home to three major professional teams. A moment like this became possible, but not really imaginable, when the Kings, the Lakers and the Clippers became Staples Center roommates 13 years ago. …

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