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Angelenos and AirTalk listeners share memories of the LA Sports Arena

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, 'the newest and most modern sports arena in the country ... built at a cost of nearly six million dollars.
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, 'the newest and most modern sports arena in the country ... built at a cost of nearly six million dollars."
David Mills/HS Crocker Co

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Bruce Springsteen will be the last performer to grace the stage of the soon to be demolished Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena located at Exposition Park. Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform tonight and Thursday with the final performance scheduled to take place this Saturday.

In 1959, then Vice-President Richard Nixon inaugurated the opening of the once state-of-the-art, 16-thousand-seat arena, which will be torn down to create a new outdoor soccer stadium.   

Designed by the architectural firm of Welton Becket, the glory days of the arena included hosting both UCLA and USC home basketball games, the Lakers, the Clippers,  the Democratic National Convention that nominated John F. Kennedy, the 1984 Olympics boxing matches, and the filming of iconic scenes from the sports movie classic “Rocky.”

AirTalk listeners — including "Rocky" actor Carl Weathers — share their favorite memories of the venue:

Carl Weathers, actor and former NFL player

My first James Brown concert I saw at the Sports Arena…. When we finally were about to shoot "Rocky," I never made it to Philadelphia to shoot there. We shot all the fights in the Sports Arena downtown. And I had one of the great honor of sharing one of the locker rooms, because it was a low-budget film, as my dressing room with the great Burgess Meredith…. We were so fortunate [the filmmaker and crew of the film] transformed that to make you think you were in Philadelphia. But we had this great iconic building, the Sports Arena, that was such a huge part of that movie.

Warren in South Los Angeles

I was the bass player for Tina Turner for 8 years and we did concerts there. I remember that place very well. The place was just so comfortable. I remember it because it was part of my neighborhood. I went to Jefferson High School. The Coliseum and the Sports Arena were just close to your heart if you grew up in South Central in the ‘50s and ‘60s, like I did.

Bob from Anaheim

A buddy and I used to take the bus from Anaheim to get the cheapest seats we could to see the L.A. Blades, the hockey team. Every time they broke a stick, they would take it to where the players entered the ring. Our seats were so high, we would run at full tilt down, like two or three levels, and we’d always get there just missing the stick.

Leonardo in Silver Lake

I remember in the late ‘70s and early ’80 they had roller disco right in front on the cement. They brought out these mobile DJs and  local families would hang out in the grassy area and had these barbecues. Someone should bring that back.


Alan Hess, architect, historian, and author of nineteen books on modernism