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Filed under: Arena’s Coming Upgrades Mean Big Food Changes — For Rich People

AEG, which owns the former Staples Center, is mostly focusing on big new clubs and suite-level dining for “VIPs”

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A rendering of Lakers fans milling around a new bar area with low lighting.
A rendering of the redone Impact Sports Bar & Grill
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape. Arena is undergoing a massive new multi-year renovation, per the Los Angeles Times and others, with plans to bring the Downtown sports and entertainment venue into the modern era. The 23-year-old building — formerly known as Staples Center — intends to create seamless new indoor-outdoor spaces, improve luxury suites, and upgrade concessions and other food and drink areas throughout the property. All told the project should take several years to complete, and is said to be part of a “nine-figure” capital investment by AEG, which owns Arena.

It’s unclear if those improvements, once in place, will make the notoriously mediocre food at the arena any better for average diners, though. Rather, AEG seems intent so far on pushing a lot of money towards things available only to people in the premium seats.

Those changes include tweaks to the private Chairman’s Club bar, called in a press release the arena’s “most private and sought-after location.” Furthermore, the suite-level concourses are being heavily updated, including redesigns at both the Yaamava’ and Lexus Clubs — each listed as “exclusive dining” on the Arena website, and available only to suite attendees. AEG will also build a Tunnel Club, a multi-level private dining and drinking experience for “select season ticket members and other VIP guests,” where attendees can watch the players exit the locker rooms.

It’s not all for naught, though. Non-VIP ticket holders will be able to (eventually) hang out at a newer version of the lesser-used City View Terrace space, which is being opened up for an indoor-outdoor experience that overlooks both the action inside and the Downtown LA skyline. That expansion will include new food and drink offerings at the terrace. The large Impact Sports Bar & Grill space is also being redesigned and given new menus, and upper-level concourses will eventually receive new concession menus as well, in addition to two “cashier-less markets” for grab-and-go items (including alcohol), placed somewhere in the building.

Mostly, though, average fans of the Lakers, Kings, and LA Sparks will likely see few of the formal food and beverage upgrades being done at the arena over the next several years — particularly the flashy upgrades like the incoming Tunnel Club — as AEG seeks to keep up with new entertainment venues like SoFi Stadium and the future home of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Intuit Dome. Expect construction at the arena, which has already begun, to continue for the next two years.