Column: Newest pro team in Los Angeles wants to make you a fan
Patrick “ACHES” Price is one of the best Call of Duty players in the world. One of only five players to win at least two Call of Duty world championships, he became the first player and captain of the Los Angeles Guerrillas, one of L.A.’s two teams in the new Call of Duty League, which begins play in January.
The Guerrillas are owned by Kroenke Sports and Entertainment as Stan and Josh Kroenke look to expand their footprint in the multi-billion-dollar world of esports. The Kroenkes, who also own the Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and English soccer club Arsenal, already own the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League.
Price, 25, and the rest of the Guerrillas were introduced for the first time at the Coliseum on Sunday night and took in the Rams’ game against the Seattle Seahawks from a field suite with Josh Kroenke. Price and his teammates quickly found out they weren’t the only guests there.
They were also joined by Jaime Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Price said as he sat at a table near the actors with his teammates. “I’ve never been at anything like this. They’re literally two feet away from us right now. It’s crazy, but Josh Kroenke and his family have really accepted us. This is a night I think we’re all going to remember for a long time.”
The Kroenkes’ Overwatch League and Call of Duty League teams are run out of the Hollywood Park site where SoFi Stadium, the $5-billion future home of the Rams and Chargers, is being constructed. There is a 6,000-seat performance venue being built at the venue which also will serve as the home of the Guerrillas and Gladiators.
“The Hollywood Park project speaks for itself, and integrating esports into it has been a fun conversation,” Josh Kroenke said. “We think that between the new stadium, the performance venue, and potentially even partnering with The Forum next door, the possibilities around the district are endless for hosting amateur and professional esports events alike.”
SoFi Stadium won’t open until July 2020, when the inaugural Call of Duty season will be wrapping up, so the team will call the Shrine Auditorium its temporary home for its first season. The team’s first homestand will be March 6 to 8. The event already was being promoted at the Coliseum during the Rams game, and Price got to address the crowd in what he hopes will be the first of many times he can introduce fans to L.A.’s newest professional team.
“The cross promotion is super important,” Price said. “The Rams are L.A.’s NFL team and we want to be L.A.’s Call of Duty team. Building our fan base in our home city is important. In the past, fan bases have followed the most popular players, but this is our market and we want to represent Los Angeles.”
Lakers legend Jerry West, in his third season as an advisor to the Clippers, thinks the team rightfully has championship aspirations.
Lakers center JaVale McGee hosted an ugly sweater holiday party for friends and family Saturday to celebrate his Juglife Foundation, which seeks to provide clean and safe drinking water in underdeveloped areas of the world.
The party, at the Levi’s Haus of Strauss in Los Angeles, essentially became the Lakers’ Christmas party with everyone on the team showing up in an ugly Christmas sweater. McGee’s sweater had a mirror on the front, which said, “Look, an ugly sweater.” Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who wore a Will Ferrell “Son of a Nutcracker” sweatshirt, pointed at his reflection in McGee’s sweater and agreed it was an ugly sweater.
Others in attendance in ugly sweaters included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Troy Daniels, Jeanie Buss, Linda Rambis and Rob Pelinka.
“The party was amazing and I feel like we’re another step closer to doing more and making our reach bigger,” McGee said. “We all felt the energy. People showed out with their ugly sweaters and it was great to have my family and friends and Laker family all in one room together for support. It was a blessing.”
Stephen A. Smith’s nationally syndicated radio show, which airs on ESPNLA 710 from 10 a.m. to noon, will have its final show Jan. 17. However, the network will not replace the show with local programming. “First Take, Your Take with Jason Fitz” will replace it and feature replays of Smith and Max Kellerman from their morning television show, “First Take.” That show will serve as the lead-in to “The Will Cain Show,” which will still be on from noon to 3 p.m. Four years ago, ESPNLA featured a live and local weekday lineup from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and their motto was “all Los Angeles sports, all the time.” Now they not only will have syndicated programming emanating from New York from 10 to 3, but the first two hours essentially will be replayed hot takes from a television show. Not only does Los Angeles deserve better, but so do the employees at ESPNLA, who helped build the network into the sports talk leader in this city.
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