Madison Square Garden Co. added to its already robust list of sports and entertainment venues Tuesday, agreeing to purchase the historic Forum arena in Inglewood, Calif., from the Faithful Central Bible Church for $23.5 million. The deal also will involve a comprehensive renovation of the famed arena, beginning later this year, which the Los Angeles Times valued at about $50 million.
"We are honored to be adding the Forum to our iconic list of venues, and to call Inglewood our West Coast home," said Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan, in a statement. "We look forward to building on the Forum's outstanding legacy in music, and to utilizing our expertise to ensure it once again becomes a thriving destination for both artists and music fans, as well as an active member of the Inglewood community.
Madison Square Garden has plenty of experience in renovating older entertainment venues. Aside from the iconic MSG arena (currently undergoing a $1 billion facelift), the company has renovated the Beacon Theater and Radio City Music Hall in New York. The company also owns the Chicago Theater in that City and is the booker for the Wang Theater in Boston.
"The renovation of the Forum will not only benefit music fans throughout Greater Los Angeles, but is also a long-term investment in the future of the City of Inglewood," said Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts in a statement. "A successful Forum will boost community pride and drive Inglewood's economic transformation through job creation, tax revenue and further redevelopment of Inglewood's commercial core."
As part of the deal, MSG has made several commitments to the City of Inglewood, including:
• A minimum ticket sales guarantee each performance year to help ensure the project's significant economic impacts;
• A Workforce Outreach Coordination Program to promote local hiring opportunities and Minority Business Enterprise/Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MBE/DBE) participation in the project, including job fairs to promote those opportunities;
• Rent-free uses of the Forum by the City for charitable causes;
• The rent-free use of the Forum parking lot on an ongoing basis for a farmers' market; and,
• Support of charitable endeavors of importance to the community.
Opened in 1967, the Forum was home to the National Basketball Association Los Angeles Lakers and National Hockey League Los Angeles Kings until 1999. The venue has also hosted several top concerts from music legends the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Jackson 5 over the years.
After the Lakers and Kings left for the then-newly constructed Staples Center in 1999, the Forum fell on hard times. It was acquired by the Faithful Central Bible Church in late 2000 which hoped to use the arena for its religious services and turn it into a family entertainment center. But the cost of renovating the aging structure proved to be too much.