A Non-Hockey Fan Enjoys The Experience Of Seeing The Sport Up Close At Staples Center
It started with a beer garden and ended in a bar with a margarita.
In between was a fun evening of sports, socializing and excitement.
I was at opening night of the 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings season, something that many of my friends found shocking, considering hockey is not exactly my top sport. Hey, I’m from the South, where hockey is best known for being a line in the Jimmy Buffett song “Boat Drinks” – “it’s 20 degrees and a hockey game’s on” – than it is for being a sport to watch.
But when a friend who has season tickets called and asked if I wanted to go to the game, I jumped at the chance. I’m a former sportswriter and love being at sporting events. Especially as a fan where I can have a drink in my hand rather than a notepad.
And several drinks I had, starting with brews in a beer garden that had been set up at LA Live. After waiting through an entrance that must have been designed by CalTrans – people were funneled into a small area, like squeezing lanes at LA freeway interchanges – it was straight to one of the many bars in the arena.
I was kind of getting beered out after a weekend in the Hometown Fair beer garden in Manhattan Beach, so I opted for margaritas. I asked the bartender not to forget the tequila and he did not; these were bar-worth margis.
Our seats were behind the goal, just 10 rows up the ice. That was great for seeing the game up close. And here’s the thing about – or is it a-boot!? – hockey. It’s a much more exciting sport in person than it is on TV. In person, you can see the speed of the game and can begin to understand why they shuffle players onto the ice about as often as I went to get another drink (it’s good not to be the driver to these events!).
And when they bang against the glass there’s a distinctive THUD that will nearly make you jump out of your seat.
But I jumped out my seat the most when the Ice Girls took to the ice. Our seats were right above them and my friend kindly let me have the seat on the end so I could have the best view. I looked over the railing and talked to the girls, and they are not just quite hot, they are quite friendly.
They are hockey’s version of the Laker Girls. And they can skate, too!
They go out and sweep the ice during breaks (starting at the 14-minute mark of each period) and must do so quickly. The Laker Girls are great dancers and the Kings girls are great skaters. Their official name is the Ice Crew (and they have a calendar, of course) but I suggest something more marketing creative, like the Ice Princesses.
Hockey is comprised of three 20-minute periods and between the first and second periods are intermissions, like halftime at a football game. And the very second a period ends, people leap out of their seats as if something has bitten them in the behind. They head out to the concession areas and this is where the mingling takes place. The most social place is the area around the bar labeled California Pizza Kitchen on the side of the arena closest to LA Live; it has both beers and cocktails.
The tab for two margaritas and two beers is $38.
Staples Center, by the way, needs to add a shelf in the men’s bathroom over the urinals where you can put your drink while you relief yourself.
After the game – a Kings loss by the way but that’s okay because there are 40 more home games that last into springtime – we went to the bar at the Marriott.
That’s where they do a Kings post-game show and two Ice Princesses were there, too. I asked them if skating skills were a prerequisite for making the squad. No, they said, it’s a learned skill. One said she even fell down during her tryout!
So what a night, what a great time. Like any sporting event, even if you are not a fan of the home team or even the sport, go out and catch a game.
It’s a great experience that goes beyond the action on the playing surface.