REPORTING FROM LOS ANGELES – The National Basketball Association posted record merchandise per caps at Sunday’s All-Star Game, while Staples Center enjoyed record concession sales.
Merchandise sales hit a per cap of $24.22 for Sunday’s All-Star Game, a record for the league. AEG Merchandise staffed the merchandise stands, which included graphic-wrapped vintage delivery trucks and patriotic color themes.
“We’re really familiar with the NBA, having hosted seven out of the 10 Finals Championships and winning five of those series,” said GM Lee Zeidman.
Food per caps were “through the roof,” Zeidman said, hitting $33.81 for Sunday night’s marquee game. That number was a record for a sporting event at Staples Center. Last year’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics netted a per cap of $29.46. That was nearly surpassed by the $29.13 per cap for Saturday’s Skills Challenge (merch was $16) or $27.36 for Friday’s Rookie Challenge and Celebrity Game (merch was $12). The concessionaire for the Staples Center is Levy Restaurants.
Actual attendance for the 2011 All-Star Game was reported as 16,198, which does not include league officials and working staff, according to a spokesman in Zeidman’s office.
Despite those impressive numbers, Zeidman said the highest per cap for the month went to the Grammy Awards, averaging $41.43. The Grammys were televised the previous Sunday, and Zeidman’s team had only four days to load out the music award show and load in the NBA All-Star Game for a Thursday rehearsal. Staples Center has hosted 10 of the last 11 Grammys.
“We had the NBA production teams partially moved into their office spaces by 8 a.m. Monday and had the Grammys completely cleared out by 8 p.m.,” Zeidman said.
The NBA built an end-stage on one end of this year’s court, used to announce players for both the East and West teams. Lenny Kravitz and about 40 dancers opened the game with three songs, while Rihanna played the half-time show with appearances by rapper Drake and Kanye West.
This year’s NBA All-Star game featured the first Hollywood-style red carpet entrance with players and celebrities walking the “magenta” carpet (the colors of NBA sponsor T-Mobile). Zeidman said NBA executives were the brains behind the celebrity compound, a two-story tent-complex constructed on the Nokia Plaza. It included two separate broadcast stations for TNT and NBA TV, a media section that could accommodate 100 photographers and reporters and a viewing area for about 400 fans, each credentialed for access. The magenta carpet also included a sound stage hosted by actor Nick Cannon, with appearances by Bruno Mars and Keri Hilson.
Zeidman said one of the most memorable moments of the game was the unveiling of a statue in front of the Staples Center honoring Laker Hall of Famer Jerry West.
“We had over 500 people watch the ceremony and some of the biggest legends in the sport attend,” he said.
Over a dozen luminaries spoke at the ceremony, including NBA Commissioner David Stern, former coach Pat Riley, Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Elgin Baylor, GM Mitch Kupchak, team owner Jerry Buss, Celtics Hall of Famer Bill Russell and Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Zeidman said one of the most fun moments from the game was rehearsing Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin’s final dunk, two days before the prestigious Slam Dunk Contest. The maneuver required pushing a car on to the floor and having fellow Clipper Baron Davis pass Griffin the ball through the sunroof while Griffin jumped feet first over the hood of the car. It took several practice runs Zeidman said, but Griffin pulled off the dunk Saturday night to win the 2011 title. — Dave Brooks
Interviewed for this article: Lee Zeidman, (213) 742-7255