As a USC student, I made it a goal to attend as many road Stars game as possible. Up until my senior year I didn't have a car, so that made my goal a tad difficult, as I had to rely on friends who had cars who were Kings or Stars fans that went to USC. That is a very small group of people.
Since this was my last semester at USC, and I had a car, I decided I would attend Stars games in all California arenas, starting with the Kings on March 7. There initially was an issue with attending the March 7 game, as I had a night class scheduled that day. Then I thought about it literally a second later and said to myself, "Game's more important."
Now, I'm not advocating all you other college students on this board to excuse yourself from class, but when the Stars are in your school's area, GO!
One thing about Staples Center that I learned from my first Stars-Kings game experience back in 2011 was that the 300-level seats totally suck. Staples Center's 100 and 200-level seats are built rather closely to each other, but then the arena has three layers of box seats in between the 200s and 300s, and the 300-level seats are steeper than the rest of the arena's seats. The seats are just way too high.
So, to reference Top Gear, here's a Tuba Top Tip: If you're going to a game at Staples Center, buy seats no higher than the 200s.
Second Tuba Top Tip: Buy your tickets from StubHub the week of the game. Some people who have tickets to the game will find out that they can't make it and will try to sell them off for anything they can get. For this game, I found two premium seats for $35 apiece, when they were $100 face value.
If you want to find cheap parking, find a parking garage in downtown Los Angeles north of Staples Center. Parking near Staples Center can get pretty pricey, but if you're willing to walk a little further, you'll find parking under $10. Plus, there are quite a few bars and restaurants near 7th Street and Grand Avenue. Also, if you like Irish pubs, go to Casey's.
Also, I recommend you always go with a friend. You're going to want to high-five somebody when the Stars score.
While I had a car, I didn't drive to Staples Center because the LA Metro finally finished constructing the Expo Line light rail last April, and it runs right by USC, so I just jumped on that.
I took quite a few photos on this visit. Part of that was because I'm doing this for a class project. The other part was to show things that my writing won't sufficiently describe.
I really wanted to convey the atmosphere outside Staples Center just to get a glimpse of what people did before going to the game. Well, there happen to be a lot of statues outside the arena, most notably Wayne Gretzky's.
Wait, there are statues of Jerry West and Magic Johnson outside the arena? Who are those scrubs?
Oh, and here's one very important thing to know about Kings fans: they do not like Steve Ott.
There was actually only one way to get to our premium seats, since they're blocked off from the rest of the arena. I'll skip the boring part of where we had to go to the VIP entrance, listened to Kings fans trying to trash talk us, and then walked down our own private concourse to our seats, where we discovered we had in-seat meal service. We paid $35 apiece for these seats. This is why StubHub is awesome.
(Note to opposing fans: I've seen my fair share of ugly behavior from opposing fans a member of the USC Band...your professional sports trash talking doesn't do anything.)
As you can see, Staples Center really loves using lasers as part of their pregame presentation.
Before each period, the scoreboard shows the Kings leaving their locker room through castle doors. I honestly think this could be cooler if they substituted showing a video of the Kings leaving through castle doors with the team skating through a physical castle wall that they would only deploy before the start of the game. What would really be awesome and a total safety hazard is if each King rode in through castle doors on horses, like most historical kings did.
Staples Center blares the goal horn when the team hits the ice for the start of each period, and the telecast doesn't exactly convey how loud it really is. If you're not ready for the goal horn, you will jump from being startled.
Yes, I yelled "Stars!" during the Banner.
Before the puck drops, Staples Center plays a video of Eric Cartman dressed as a cowboy discussing what he would do if he was a Dallas Stars fan. It's overly stereotypical, so take that with a grain of salt. Then he literally explodes and becomes a Kings fan, and then leads Staples Center in a "Go Kings Go!" chant. If you're wondering why Eric Cartman is at Kings games and not Avalanche games, the creators of South Park are Kings fans.
And then the puck drops.
I always behave in road venues as I would anybody else's house: Don't be obnoxious. Treat the home fans with respect. Simple guidelines to follow, but they'll get you far.
For the most part, the Kings fans immediately around us were pretty chill and actually conversed with us peacefully. This has been true for every game I've been to at Staples Center, and I was happy that this trend continued.
Now, one particular fan who was a few rows behind me tried to get my attention by screaming unflattering guttural sounds my direction, but I never acknowledged him. Then that same fan started screaming at other people, so it was clear he had a little too much of grandpa's old cough medicine before the game.
When it comes to celebrating Stars goals, it's extremely gratifying. It's one thing to be a Ducks or Sharks fan celebrating a goal at Staples Center because you will probably have a lot of friends with you to celebrate that goal. It's an entirely different and awesome feeling to be one of 30 Stars fans in the building standing up and cheering Jaromir Jagr scoring the first goal of the game.
Now, when Trevor Lewis shoot the tying goal over Kari, that sucks. The fans around me, however, didn't give me crap because I didn't talk trash to them when Jagr scored.
I like taking pictures of the scoreboard when the home team scores because it gives me something to do besides mope, but this time I was too shocked that Lewis beat Kari from such a severe angle that I didn't get my camera out. Is it a tad masochistic that I photograph the opposing team celebrating at my expense? Perhaps. But you don't get to see this stuff on TV.
The Kings really like the Addams family theme, except Kings fans added their own lyrics to it. During the gaps in sound, the Kings fans yell in rhythm "STARS SUCK!" or whoever they're playing that night. As far as I know, those aren't the words to the Addams Family theme. But, who am I to judge?
I happen to be a pretty intense hockey watcher when I'm at the arena, and on this particular night I was really intense, prompting me to lean forward a lot in my chair. A Kings fan behind me noticed and said something along the lines of "bro, you're too intense for this game. It's a 1-1 tie. You gotta relax!" He was right.
The first intermission entertainment was a tad interesting. Two guys were given shirts that were frozen solid, and there was a contest between them to see who could free the shirt from the ice and put it on before the other guy to win a Toyota.
I'm not sure what this blog's policy is on posting photos of shirtless men trying to break ice on a shirt to put said shirt on, but this was something you had to see to believe.
The bigger guy near the bench won the contest, and the presenters asked him how he felt, which badly backfired since he yelled "F*** yeah!" very loudly into the mic, prompting every child in the arena to ask their parents what that word meant. Everybody watching that guy try to break the shirt just knew he was hammered, so I can't say we were surprised by him cussing while being thrilled from winning a new car.
Their Champions banner flutters around like a sail. The Kings put a fan above the banner so it stands out more than the rest of their banners. Just look at the American and Canadian flags for reference. They're totally stationary.
Oh and I stayed in my seat during intermission.
Staples Center brought up the Hero of the Game during the second period. This night, it was Corporal William Cushenberry.
This brought an obligatory and well-deserved standing ovation from the entire arena.
So many Lakers banners.
During a commercial break, the arena featured Dustin Penner answering "this or that" questions about Los Angeles. When the question "USC or ucla" popped up on the screen, it seemed like the entire arena was yelling "USC!" It may have just been me yelling over everybody else. I don't know. Penner answered USC, which then prompted some of the loudest cheers heard in the building the entire game.
Stompin' Tom Connors had passed away the day before this game, and a lot of arenas in the NHL paid tribute to him by playing "The Hockey Song." The arena wanted everybody to sing along to the song, and even displayed the lyrics on the screen. I was one of two people in my section who knew the song, as I use it to open my radio show.
And then right after that, Jeff Carter got the puck.
If you ever see this during a game at Staples Center, it means bad things.
The scoreboard during goal celebrations is interesting to me. It briefly stops showing the player who scored, cutting to a random clip of people either dancing or celebrating.
I'm curious as to where the Kings find these clips.
And again, because I established right away I wasn't an obnoxious fan, there wasn't too much heckling from the fans immediately surrounding me. That made watching the Stars trail a little more bearable.
And since it's a Kings game, they need more Cartman.
See if you can spot something new.
Somehow our power play was really good that game. Cody Eakin's goal was also beautiful and tied the game, so that was fun to again stand up and be the only two people celebrating in my section. There was another Stars fan in the section to my right, and once he saw me and realized he wasn't the only Stars fan in his vicinity, we pointed and nodded at each other to nonverbally say "We're awesome."
When you go to road games, you instantly make new friends when you see people wearing your team's colors.
There was a circus tricycle race this time around, so no shirtless men trying to break open a frozen shirt. The tricycles were very difficult to handle judging by how poorly the riders rode around them in the arena.
They probably could have gotten around faster if they ran on the ice. It might have been more entertaining, too.
I mean, who doesn't want to see chaos on the ice?
After that, I ventured out to the concourse.
Pretty upscale bar. I was hoping there would be more people in the concourse during intermission to make this a better photo, but there weren't.
You can't really tell in that photo above, but that woman on the far end of the bar from me who's under the lights is wearing a Patrick Kane jersey. Yup. Chicago Blackhawks fans are everywhere, even when they're not relevant to the game you're at.
There was also this gigantic display of memorabilia way out of my price range, even though I wouldn't want it anyway.
Well, maybe the Wayne Gretzky photo. I heard that guy was pretty good in his heyday.
I was also starting to get really hungry and decided to take advantage of the in-seat meal service. What I learned is there is one person that is designated to take orders in your section, and if you ask another person near your section who isn't assigned to your section, he or she won't take your order. At least that's what happened with me.
After waiting a rather frustrating five minutes or so, we finally found our guy and ordered our food. Hey, we had premium seats. We can complain about first world pains.
I have to say the food service was really clutch. Seconds after the Staples Center employee delivered my turkey burger, Brenden Morrow scored one of the softest goals ever, and the Stars took the lead. You all can thank my turkey burger very much for causing Jonathan Quick to focus on that instead of Brenden Morrow at his doorstep.
Oh and by the way, the burger was pretty good.
Not too long after that, Jagr scored again and that really took the air out of the building.
So yeah, I got to see a legend in Jaromir Jagr score two goals for the Stars. That was pretty awesome.
Oh and really fitting that there's a StubHub ad running on the scoreboard. Thank you for these seats.
When the Kings take a lot of penalties, the fans really don't like it. In fact, they chant very loudly "Ref you suck!"
The Kings fan behind me who told me to chill out earlier happened to be a USC fan, so my friend, also a Trojan, and I found common ground with him, which was nice. If you happen to be reading this, said Kings fan, Fight on, sir.
Late in the period Antoine Roussel buried an empty net goal, and then there was a mass exodus out of the arena. I took a bunch of photos of fans leaving the game, which I admit was a dick move.
So long. Farewell.
Auf wiedersehen goodbye (Pacific Division)!
Oh and I didn't get many action shots the entire game, and decided now, while the game was already finished, was the best time to get some.
The game ended, and luckily we found a Kings fan who was nice enough to take a couple minutes to take our picture with the ice in the background.
It's always nice to walk out of a road venue a victor. The majority of everybody surrounding you leaves sad while you get to laugh (inside) at their misery. Yes, schadenfreude. This is also when you can high-five the Stars fans you didn't see at the game.
When you're using the LA Metro light rail to get to and from Staples Center, make sure you get on the right train. My friend and I jumped on the first one we saw, and didn't realize we got on the wrong train until three stops later, when we were in South Central LA. Trains after 8:00 PM arrive 20 minutes apart from each other, so we were in unfamiliar territory for an uncomfortably long time.
What ideally would have been a 15-minute commute back to my apartment became 45 minutes because of our mistake. But eventually, I got home safely.
Would my experience be different had the Kings won this game? Undoubtedly. I've been to a Stars-Kings game in which the Kings won, and it sucked. That's why I always make it a goal of mine to try and establish good relations with the people surrounding me so a loss hopefully won't be as bad. The only fans I've had issues with at Staples Center in the past are fans who are within yelling distance of me. Other than that, overall I've had decent experiences at Staples.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this. I know I write a lot.
Up next: Duck Hunting. Guaranteed to have lots of traffic in that post.