The Los Angeles sports world was given a shocking news break on Tuesday when it was announced that Staples Center — home of the L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, and many other teams — will be changing its name to Crypto.com Arena on Dec. 25.
For long-time fans of the Lakers, like point guard Russell Westbrook, the news serves as a big adjustment. L.A.’s iconic home has been known as the Staples Center since its opening in 1999, and with Staples signing a lifetime deal with the arena’s ownership — AEG — it was assumed that the name would never change.
But, as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said, this is just business, and Crypto.com reportedly paid over $700 million for the naming rights. “It’s tough. Lakers fans, and really sports fans in general, obviously know that building as the Staples Center,” Vogel said of the iconic building.
“I understand the disappointment the fans will have, but that’s just the way of the world. This is the business we’re in. Almost universally around the country, there’s a business element to naming rights with arenas. It’s really out of our control.”
Westbrook echoed a similar sentiment, but had a greater attachment to Staples Center given his upbringing.
“Honestly, the business side of basketball and how deals go down. Obviously, as players, we don’t know exactly what happens or how it goes down. Just see it like everybody else like you saw it today and not really knowing the details of it, but Staples Center got so many great memories just for me as a kid growing up in L.A. So many great things have happened in that building. Regardless of the name, the building is still the building.”
While Staples Center will soon become Crypto.com Arena, it won’t change the 22 years of history that took place within the building, as Westbrook says. The Lakers won six championships while calling the Staples Center home, and are in the midst of trying to win a seventh since moving to their downtown L.A. home.
It may take fans some time to embrace the new name, but like all arena name changes, it eventually will feel normal. The Lakers may also be able to more easily embrace it with the Clippers planning their departure to Inglewood by 2024.
AEG bought back naming rights from Staples
It went under the radar at the time, but AEG — the company that owns Staples Center — reportedly bought back the naming rights from Staples prior to the Crypto.com deal. Staples originally paid $120 million for their lifetime deal, but it didn’t hold a candle to the reported $700 million paid by the cryptocurrency website.
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