‘Blasphemy’: Some Angelenos grouse, others rejoice at Staples Center’s new name

GRIFFITH PARK, CA NOVEMBER 4, 2014 -- Aerial view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline.
Aerial view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline with Staples Center.
(Los Angeles Times)

Hugo Garcia had to check his phone Wednesday morning to believe it was real.

The Staples Center will soon be called Arena, after naming rights went to the highest bidder — reportedly for more than $700 million.

“This just sounds awful,” said Garcia, 29, wearing a Lakers hat outside the entrance to the arena in downtown Los Angeles.


As a kid, Garcia watched Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal lead the Lakers to championships at Staples.

Now, as a third-year student at Loyola Law School, he often comes to the arena with friends, though he hasn’t gone inside since the pandemic started.

The Staples Center will become known as Arena as part of a new 20-year deal between the Singapore cryptocurrency exchange and AEG, owner of the home arena of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks.

Nov. 16, 2021

He called the arena “a cultural epicenter of L.A.” and a “staple of the L.A. community.”

There should have been more community input about the name change, he said.

“It’s a very important thing to consult with stakeholders, the community, you know what I mean? It should have been a process,” he said.


Garcia was far from the only Angeleno to express discomfort or outright disgust with the name change, though there were approving reactions too.

Some touted it as a boon that will bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream consciousness.

Others cynically viewed the branding as just another instance of a corporate entity making its mark on highly visible real estate.

Ari Orjalo, a die-hard Lakers fan, woke up Wednesday in shock to a flurry of text messages from friends and family alerting him to the news.

“Blasphemy is what it is,” Orjalo, 40, said in Los Feliz, where he was born and raised.

He remembers the day the stadium was built, as well as the championships that would come to define it.

A big-time Lakers fan, Orjalo describes himself as “even more of a Kobe fan.”

When Kobe Bryant died in January 2020, Orjalo shed tears and attended the star athlete’s memorial.

“Regardless of whatever they want to call it, I will always refer to it as the ‘House That Kobe Built,’” he said. “It will always be Staples to me.”

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, also tweeted that the Staples Center would be “forever known as ‘The House That Kobe Built,’” superimposing his image on the arena with a crown above his head.

Vanessa Bryant summed up the feelings of many Lakers fans after learning Staples Center will become Arena: “Forever known as The House That Kobe Built.”

Nov. 17, 2021

The new name doesn’t sound “catchy” to Anthonia Kitchen, 54, who was visiting from the Detroit area.

She was standing outside the arena as she waited for a news conference to start for the Los Angeles Auto Show taking place later this week.

She is an account manager for a marketing company, and Subaru is a client.

Kitchen has visited the Staples Center only once, but the arena is “just synonymous with the name Staples,” she said.

“When you think of that name, you think of the memories and the things that you’ve experienced at the Staples Center,” she said. “So changing the name, it will be a little different.”

But for cryptocurrency investors like brothers Kevin and Bryan Segura, the new name, which will debut on Dec. 25, was thrilling.

“What a great introduction for crypto to the public,” said Kevin Segura, 19, a recent transplant to L.A. who became interested in cryptocurrency around the start of the pandemic.

Given the arena’s world renown, he expects the new name to bring the concept of digital currency to a much wider audience.

“If they don’t know what crypto is, they’re going to get interested in crypto,” he said.

Atwater Village resident Dal Wolf, also a cryptocurrency investor, said he wasn’t surprised, noting that also sponsors Formula One car racing.

“So many stadiums have different financial institutions behind them, and this is just a financial institution, in a way,” said 45-year-old Wolf, who works in advertising and entertainment.

Echoing the Segura brothers, he said the move could signal a mainstreaming of cryptocurrency — depending on federal regulatory decisions.

Some Angelenos were blasé about the coming change, even if they regularly visit the arena.

Sitting outside a gourmet ice cream shop on Hillhurst Avenue in Los Feliz, Grace Ahn, 40, hadn’t heard about it and said it didn’t matter much to her.

“We all know that stadiums are owned by big companies and are named after them,” said Ahn, 40, a makeup artist who has attended the venue many times for concerts. “I just feel like this is another one that took over.”