Los Angeles Lakers announce arena naming rights deal amid bankruptcy fears

The $2bn basketball arena to host the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 has landed a new name and are expected to file for bankruptcy as the arena and surrounding businesses struggle to cope with a decline in ticket and merchandise sales and a spike in debt.

The future of the 73,000-seat arena is being called into question as the Lakers, the second-most valuable basketball franchise behind the Boston Celtics, move their franchise to a planned waterfront arena south of downtown, a move that triggered the resignation of team owner Jerry Buss.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Monday the team, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and others were exploring a new owner for the arena, which is known as the Staples Center. He did not provide any details about who those entities were.

Buss inherited his father’s property when he bought the Lakers in 1979. Soon after, he began to build a thriving business empire, including the Forum across the street, which he sold to the NBA in 1994. The basketball arena was an instant success, and fans flocked to the 1970s-era Lakers, who were led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Buss’s son Jim, who assumed control of the team last year, has been reluctant to discuss a plan for the venue amid mounting debt. The arena has been a financial drain for the past several years. It now costs the team about $30m a year to play its games, the highest figure of any NBA team, according to ESPN.

It is not clear how the renovation of Staples Center would play out after it moves to the new venue, which is expected to open in the spring of 2020.

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