August 01, 2013
By KENNETH MILLER
LAWT Managing Editor
The bold new revitalization project for the city of Inglewood under the watchful eye of Mayor Jim Butts took its first giant leap on Tuesday when representatives of Madison Square Garden joined city officials to launch the renovation of its iconic treasure, The Forum.
More than 40 years after what was once known as The Fabulous Forum had played host to five Lakers NBA championships, performances by the Jacksons, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson, Prince, Tina Turner, The Eagles and Monday Night Fights the building will reopen after a $100 million renovation under the name Forum presented by Chase with a concert by the Eagles Jan. 15, 2014.
After the Lakers bolted to Staples Center in 1999, leaving behind a legacy of memories including the ‘Showtime’ era, The Forum sat dormant from 2000 until most recent, and the debate of demolition was more dominant than any team or event that had played there.
Bishop Kenneth L. Ulmer kept the Forum on a respirator for the greater part of the past decade when Faithful Central Church purchased the building and held Sunday services.
“What motivated us (to purchase the Forum) was the concern for what happens to the city, what happens to a caucus. We really felt the challenge to try to bridge that gap from yesterday until tomorrow and it was a challenge, it was a good run and we were able to pass the baton to a great company,” explained Ulmer.
Ulmer applauded the bright new future for the building and the city and stated that his primary concern was the building being demolished.
“I think that our concern was the city was moving into a new day, a new era and we were a link to that. We wanted to see the city maintain its forward vision of providing a fun place, a safe place for the community and then one that obviously one that has economic benefits for the community,” he added.
The economic benefits are already beginning to take fold with the creation of an estimated 300 plus jobs during the renovation project and an additional 300 plus permanent position that will be absorbed by Inglewood residents.
Butts was the driving force behind reviving the building as he recalled his personal experiences with the Forum and his goals as a public servant for the city.
“I have decades of relationships with this building,” he stated. “I went to my first two concerts here in 1969 one of which was Sly and The family stone. When I became a policeman I worked the basketball games from the floor and hockey games from the floor and when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was under threat I picked him up from his home,” he recalled.
Butts said that he was also the venue commander during the Olympics in 1984 when the basketball games were played at the Forum.
He joked that his experience as Santa Monica Police Chief was a work-study program, and that “The music died when nobody wasn’t looking.”
MSG unveiled a video and photographs of the aggressive new face lift that will revert the façade back to it’s original ‘California red sunset’ colors on the exterior and the interior will be completely modernized with more comfortable seating for 17,505 or converted to a half bowl of 8,000.
The new design will allow the venue to host the largest general admission floors in the country. The Forum will also have seven star caliber dressing rooms, an artist lounge and exceptional acoustics. The historic VIP Forum Club will be restored to its former glory and a newly introduced Chase Lounge will serve select Chase-affiliated patrons and offer premium access to loge seating.
The new aggressive fast moving plans calls for the venue to be a concert and entertainment venues only as MSG plans to capitalize on his vast relationships within the entertainment industry.
City Councilman George Dotson joined the mayor and State Senator Rod Wright in celebrating Inglewood’s new day.
“This is a dream of the mayor and the councilman that really came true,” said Dotson.
“It took a lot of hard work I must admit from the mayor and the city administrative staff and making this contract real and my hat it off to Madison Square Garden because they are living up to what they promised and this is really going to be a shining star in the city of Inglewood.”
“I may have been the leader, but there was a lot of staff and you cant understate the contribution that Bishop Ulmer and Faithful central bible Church made to this city by holding on to that property so that it didn’t get bulldozed and made into condominiums. It was the economic furnace to the city at one time and it is now the economic furnace to the city again,” said Butts.
Wright was equally elated with the event.
“We are going to take the house that Jack built that we often called it and this will be the new life for it and making it an even greater venue in the city of Inglewood.
In December, historic Hollywood Park racetrack will be closing its doors for good to make way for Hollywood Park Tomorrow, a sprawling housing and retail development.
A month later in January on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, the Forum will be reborn again.