I went downtown to LA Live with a friend to observe what happens when Los Angeles has a chance to win the Stanley Cup. First, the bottom line: the Kings lost 3-1 and go back to New Jersey to try again on Saturday to grab the Cup. If that doesn't work, the teams will return to Staples Center on Monday with the Kings again in position to win the Cup. All remaining games, by the way, will be aired on the main NBC television network.
OK, downtown. Things were packed around LA live more than two hours for the game — bars, restaurants and parking lots. I saw one lot on Olympic, west of the 110 Freeway — so kind of a schlep to the arena — charging $50 for parking. My usual lots in the $5 to $10 range were asking $25 and up. The lot under LA Live, which starts at $25 for a game-length stay, was closed off by 3 p.m.
This we learned: with the Stanley Cup at stake, hundreds of fans in Kings jerseys, possibly thousands, came to the LA Live area with no tickets to the game. This is on a weekday. They queued up in long lines to get into ESPN Zone and the other drinkeries. Many did not get inside before the game began, if at all, and the game is not shown on big screens in the plaza itself. (Thanks Lakers rioters.) My friend and I watched the game in the bar at the J.W. Marriott with more than a hundred others, and it was a mini-Staples Center event. The crowd cheered and chanted just as if they were across the street in the arena.
The crowds extended for blocks around — the Figueroa Hotel wasn't showing the game but had a lot of activity, though a lot of that was the tech crowd attending E3. Riordan's Tavern, a few blocks from Staples Center, was packed before game time. Immediately after the game, a lot of fans in Kings jerseys were spotted blocks and blocks from the arena, so clearly they had been scattered across Downtown.
The LAPD was out in force around LA Live — dozens of officers, some carrying helmets, and at least one horse (because I almost stepped in the evidence.) At one point the LAPD put out the word that no more people should come to the LA Live area, due to the overfilling of the drinking establishments.