Denver arena’s scheduling conflict rattles cages


No word yet whether the conflict will end in a steel cage match, but World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon may try to lay the smack down one way or another.

The Lakers are scheduled to play Game 4 of their Western Conference finals Monday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The only problem is that WWE is also booked at the arena the same night for an episode of “Monday Night Raw.”

McMahon told the Associated Press he doesn’t think there was “any malice, just ineptness,” from Kroenke Sports, which owns the Nuggets and the arena, in the double booking. But he isn’t interested in the arena “simply throwing us out on our ear.” He said he would send his trucks to Denver.


“That’s what we intend to do,” he said. “We’re going to show up.”

The Nuggets had lost in the first round five straight years but advanced to the conference finals this year for the first time since 1985. Once the Lakers defeated the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the conference semifinals Sunday, the scheduling conflict became official. Had the Rockets won, Denver would have had home-court advantage in the next round and the Monday game would have been in Houston.

The NBA says it expects the game to be played as scheduled. “We are confident that the Pepsi Center and the WWE will resolve their scheduling conflict,” said Mike Bass, NBA senior vice president. The Nuggets and Kroenke Sports had no comment.

Because of the uncertainty of teams’ playoff status, such double bookings aren’t unprecedented. Rexall Place, home arena of the Edmonton Oilers, booked the children’s show “Dora the Explorer Live, Dora’s Pirate Adventure” for June 17, 2006, with the expectation that the Oilers would not advance that far in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That backfired when the Oilers became the first eighth-seeded team to reach the finals, and Game 6 was scheduled the same day as “Dora.” The game was played as scheduled; “Dora” moved to another venue.

Staples Center nearly had a similar problem that year as well. It scheduled a Madonna concert June 3, believing the Lakers, Kings or Clippers would not need the building for a playoff game that night. Had the Clippers defeated Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals, there would have been problems. The Suns won.

Of next week’s conflict, McMahon said, “The fans in Denver had a lot more faith in making the playoffs than the owner.”

WWE spokesman Robert Zimmerman said the organization secured the Pepsi Center on Aug. 15 and has already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the event. He says the organization expects a sellout, with tickets ranging from $20 to $70.


McMahon appeared to imply that the NBA might hold the upper hand in the situation. “We may be holding an event in a parking lot somewhere,” he said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report