From their start of play in 1993 to 2006, the Anaheim Ducks were officially named the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. I called them the Mighty Dorks and the Mighty Schmucks. Then they changed their name to just the Anaheim Ducks -- and won the next Stanley Cup. Coincidence?
Before You Go. Unlike the Seattle and San Francisco Bay Areas, the Los Angeles area has very consistent weather. It’s a nice place to visit. If you don’t mind earthquakes. And mudslides. And wildfires. And smog.
The Angels' hometown (well, home County, anyway) newspaper, the Orange County Register, is predicting the high 60s for daylight and the high 40s for the evening on Wednesday. The region's (and indeed the Western U.S.') largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, mostly concurs.
Anaheim is in the Pacific Time Zone, 3 hours behind New York. So there will be some clock & watch fiddling.
Tickets. The Ducks averaged 16,346 fans per home game last season. That's only a little over 95 percent of capacity. Getting tickets should not be hard.
Seats in the lower level are $146 between the goals and $125 behind them. Seats in the upper level are $55 between and $37 behind.
Getting There. It's 2,791 miles from Times Square in New York to City Hall in Los Angeles, and 2,773 miles from the Prudential Center in Newark to the Honda Center in Anaheim. In other words, if you’re going, you're flying. A round-trip flight from Newark to Los Angeles International Airport (a.k.a. LAX) can be had for under $900, although you'd probably have to change planes somewhere.
Driving all that way, and all that way back, is not a good idea: Even if you get someone to go with you, and you take turns, one drives while the other one sleeps, and you pack 2 days' worth of food, and you use the side of the Interstate as a toilet, and you don’t get pulled over for speeding, you’ll still need over 2 full days. Each way.
But, if you really, really want to... Take Interstate 80 West across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Just before leaving Nebraska for Colorado, you'll get on Interstate 76, and shortly before reaching Denver you'll get on Interstate 70 West. You'll take that all the way to its end in Utah, where you’ll take Interstate 15 south. You'll go through a short strip of Arizona before getting into Nevada (where you'll see the Strip, Las Vegas), before getting into California.
Assuming you're not going to a hotel first (and you really should, keeping in mind that those near the stadium will be cheaper than those near Disneyland or in downtown L.A.), you'll get off I-15 at Exit 106, and get on State Route 60, the Pomona Freeway. You'll get off Route 60 at Exit 24, for State Route 57, the Orange Freeway. Take Exit 2 to Katella Blvd. The arena will be on your left. Angel Stadium will be on your right.
Given an average speed of 60 miles an hour, you'll be in New Jersey for an hour and a half, Pennsylvania for 5:15, Ohio for 4 hours, Indiana for 2:30, Illinois for 2:45, Iowa for 5:15, Nebraska for 6 hours, Colorado for 7:15, Utah for 6 hours, Arizona for half an hour, Nevada for 2 hours, and California for 3 hours; for a total of 46 hours. Factor in rest stops, you’ll need more like 3 full days. And, remember, that's just one way. And if you end up using Las Vegas as a rest stop, well, you might end up missing the game and end up, yourself, as what "stays in Vegas."
That's still faster than Greyhound (about 65 1/2 hours, changing buses at least 3 times, $596 round-trip, but it could drop to as little as $482 on advanced purchase) and Amtrak (about 62 hours, $523). The station for both is at 2626 East Katella, between the arena and the stadium.
Anaheim Station, a.k.a. the Iceberg
If you do go all the way to Los Angeles for your hotel, it's a 40-minute drive from downtown L.A. to Angel Stadium down Interstate 5, and a 45-minute trip on Amtrak ($30 round-trip) or a 50-minute trip on the Metrolink Orange County Line ($17.50 round-trip) from L.A.'s Union Station to Anaheim's Amtrak station.
Orange County, California is home to 3 million people, about 330,000 of them in the City of Anaheim, a city founded in 1857 and, since its first settlers were German, named for the German for "home by the Santa Ana River."
That total of 330,000 people would make Anaheim smaller than the smallest of New York City's Boroughs, Staten Island; but larger than any city in New York State other than New York City (topped by Buffalo with 260,000), New Jersey (Newark has 275,000) or Connecticut (Bridgeport has 145,000). Add neighboring Riverside County, and there's over 5.2 million people that are, by the standard I use for each of the various teams' spheres of influence, in the Angels' "market."
Still, while that puts them in the Los Angeles market, 2nd to New York in both MLB and NHL, on its own, the Anaheim market ranks 13th in MLB and 14th in the NHL. That's higher than such cold-weather cities as Minnesota, Denver, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and every Canadian city that's ever been in the NHL except for Toronto -- but it still doesn't make Anaheim a good hockey market. (Quick success has done that.)
But while the Angels have changed their name over the years to reflect the market for which they're shooting -- going from "Los Angeles" to "California" in 1966, to "Anaheim" in 1997, and to "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" in 2005, as if they could get all of California or even the Los Angeles region -- the Ducks have never pretended to be anything other than Orange County's team. They knew the Kings had a 26-year head-start on them, even if they were able to win the Stanley Cup 5 years sooner than the Kings did (in real life, whereas in franchise life they did it in 14 years compared to the Kings' 45 years), so they knew they had to build their own fanbase, rather than trying to get bandwagoners from the Kings' territory.
ZIP Codes in Orange County start with the digits 925, 926, 927 and 928; while the Area Code is 714, overlaid by 657.
Going In. The Honda Center, which opened in 1993 as the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim (feeding the "duck" theme, and still frequently called the Ponda Center rather than by its Japanese automaker-bought name), is at 2695 East Katella Avenue.
The Ducks share it with the Los Angeles Kiss, an Arena Football League team part-owned by Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons. Previously, the Anaheim Piranhas played arenaball here in 1996 and 1997. The NBA's Los Angeles Clippers played selected home games here from 1994 to 1999, and UCLA played the 2011-12 season here while Pauley Pavilion was being renovated. It hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in 1999.
The Sacramento Kings tried to move there for the 2011-12 season, but a deal fell through. The company that operates the arena would still like to lure an NBA team, although having 3 teams in 1 sport in 1 metro area hasn't been done since 1957 (baseball in New York), and even with the Clippers doing really well attendance-wise for the first time, I think 3 local sets of hoopsters is a bit ridiculous (especially when you add the college game with UCLA, USC, Loyola Marymount, Cal State-Fullerton, etc.).
If you drive in, you'll most likely enter from the south. The rink is laid out east-to-west, and the Ducks attack twice toward the east end.
Food. Being an international city, you'd think the sports venues in Los Angeles would have great variety. Orange County, loaded with both Hispanics and especially Asians, is no exception. I should not that, unlike most arenas, where the lower level is the 100 sections and the upper level is the 200 sections, the Honda Center labels its lower level Plaza Level and numbers those sections in the 200s, while the upper level is the Terrace Level and its sections are numbered in the 400s.
There's Gelato (ice cream) at 202, Anaheim Pizza Company at 203 and 411, Stoneworks wings (chicken, not duck) and pizza at 210, Burger Bistro at 217 and 408, Outlaws Smokehouse (a barbecue stand, not to be confused with Outback Steakhouse) at 219 and 421, Melissa's Cart (health food) at 225 and 401, Pick Up Stix (Asian) at 226, Wahoo's Fish Taco (a San Diego favorite come up the freeway) at 228, Main Street Deli at 430, Bowl'd Over (more Asian) at 433, and Anaheim Chile (Mexican) at 443.
At 434 is Stick Work, which is not a pun on hockey sticks, but a little bit of everything: Bacon wrapped knockwurst (German), Teriyaki chicken and Tempura vegetables (Japanese), Creole shrimp and Andouille sausage (Louisiana), and several classically unhealthy American items: House made corn dogs, fried apple pie, fried Oreos, S'mores, and a fried peanut butter & jelly brownie. Apparently, the Ducks' message for visiting teams' fans is, "If we can't beat ya, we'll send ya to the emergency room."
Team History Displays. Despite being a relatively new team, the Ducks have had a bit of success. They've won 5 Pacific Division titles: 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. They've won 2 Western Conference titles: 2003 and 2007. (They did not finish 1st in the Division in 2003.) And they've won the 2007 Stanley Cup. They have banners reflecting these achievements.
Clearly taken during the 2014-15 season,
as the last 2 seasons' Division title banners aren't up yet.
The Ducks have retired 1 uniform number, the 8 of right wing Teemu Selanne, who was with them from 1996 to 2001, was traded, missed the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals against the Devils, was reacquired in 2005, was part of the 2007 Cup win, and retired in 2014.
The Devils retired Nieder's Number 27, but the Ducks, as yet, have not. Nor have they retired Pronger's 44, nor the 9 of Paul Kariya, who is not yet in the Hall. Famously, Kariya, then the Ducks' captain, was hammered by his opposite number on the Devils, Scott Stevens, in Game 6 of the 2003 Finals, but came back to score the winning goal. But the Devils won Game 7, and Kariya never played another game for the Ducks.
Since the team only started play in 1993, no player identified with the Ducks was named to The Hockey News' 100 Greatest Players. If THN did that list again today, they might include Niedermayer or Selanne. Niedermayer and Ruslain Salei, the defenseman from Belarus who played on their 2003 Finals team and was killed in the 2011 plane crash that wiped out Russian team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, have been elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Former general manager Brian Burke has received the Lester Patrick Trophy, for contributions to hockey in America.
The Ducks did not name a 20th Anniversary Team in 2013. Maybe they'll name one for their 25th in 2018. Then again, the Devils have never named an Anniversary Team.
UPDATE: Selanne, Pronger and Niedermayer were named to the NHL's 100th Anniversary 100 Greatest Players in 2017.
Stuff. According to the arena website, "The Anaheim Team Store is located on the South side of the Honda Center, and carries a large selection of Ducks merchandise, as well as other NHL team products. The Anaheim Team Store also carries exclusive and game used items!" Exclamation point!
There haven’t been a whole lot of books written about the Ducks, in spite of their no longer being an expansion team. Probably the most comprehensive one is their entry in the NHL's official Inside the NHL series, published last year by Nick Day. The NHL released a DVD series about their 2007 Cup win. Other than that, the only videos would be the Mighty Ducks movies, which, of course, don't feature the real-life NHL team. Besides, they're not all they're quacked up to be.
Yes, I went there.
During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Ducks' fans 26th -- that's 5th from the bottom. The article was very blunt: "Dominant team can't draw capacity crowds. No fans deserve their team less." Translation: Southern California can't support 2 NHL teams; we know they can't, because, even though both teams are currently good, they don't support them.
Ducks fans don't like the Los Angeles Kings or the San Jose Sharks. They might have bad feelings toward the Devils because of Stevens vs. Kariya in 2003. But there's now an entire generation of Duck fans that doesn't remember that, and most others probably don't care. At any rate, you can bond with them over your shared hatred of the Kings.
The March 14 Ducks-Devils game is Social Media Night at the Honda Center. I don't know what they mean by that. #MightBeReallyStupid
The Ducks hold auditions for National Anthem singers, instead of having a regular, or having celebrities do it. This may be for the best: Before a 1997 Playoff game, Lucy Lawless, the New Zealand-born star of Xena: Warrior Princess, who really is a good singer, sang the Anthem wearing a star-spangled bustier and an Uncle Sam top hat. At the end, the bustier fell, and -- it's not clear whether she had yet realized there was a "wardrobe malfunction" -- she gave a Xena-style war whoop. Needless to say, she has not been invited back.
The Ducks' mascot is a duck named Wild Wing. (No, he's not from Buffalo, he's from Anaheim.) He is a representation of the team's 1st logo, a duck with a white goalie mask altered to fit his beak. Despite making the Playoffs for the 1st time that season, 1997 was not a good year for the Mighty Ducks: In addition to the Lucy Lawless incident, there was another where Wild Wing's routine of being lowered from the rafters to the ice to start the game went wrong, and he was left suspended for the remainder of pregame introductions. Later still that season, a stunt in which he was supposed to jump through a flaming hoop went wrong, and his costume caught fire. The man in the suit was not injured either time.
As Quentin Tarantino might say, he's a bad brother ducker.
The goal song is "Bro Hymn" by Pennywise. "My Baby" by Jeremiah Red is played after a Ducks win. But the fans' biggest chant is stupid: It's, "Let's go, Du-ucks!" "Ducks" as 2 syllables, as in, "Let's go, Yankees!" Not 1 syllable, as in, "Let's go, Mets!" Or even 3, as, "Let's go, An-a-heim!" "Du-ucks!" is even dumber than the "Quack! Quack! Quack!" chant from the Mighty Ducks movies. And you'd think they'd sell "duck call" kazoos, but they don't.
After the Game. The Honda Center is yet another of those suburban islands in a sea of parking, so you won’t be in any neighborhood, much less a bad one. You'll almost certainly be safe.
Near the Honda Center, if you're interested in a postgame meal or drink, are J.T. Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery at 2610 East Katella, Rubio's at 2406 East Katella, Noble Ale Works at 1621 South Sinclair Street, and, if you're really desperate, there's a Hooter's. There are several familiar names down Katella from the stadium: McDonald's, Starbucks, Denny's. There's also The Catch.
The closest thing I could find to a Yankee-friendly bar near the Anaheim arena and stadium is the Katella Grill, at 1325 W. Katella Avenue in Orange, about 3 miles away. It's gotten some praise from New Yorkers as a nice place.
In and around Los Angeles proper, there's some places that may interest you. A recent Thrillist article called Big Wangs the best sports bar in the State of California. In this case, "Wangs" is a countrified version of "wings," as in chicken wings. (Although a male rooster is sometimes called a "cock.") 801 S. Grand Avenue, downtown, near the Staples Center.
Rick's Tavern On Main is the home of the L.A. area's Yankees fan club. 2907 Main Street in Santa Monica, 2 blocks in from the beach. Bus 733 from downtown L.A. (While the 1970s sitcom Three's Company was set in Santa Monica, close to the beach, I cannot confirm that Rick's was the basis for the Regal Beagle.) West 4th & Jane is owned by a New Yorker and is an L.A.-area haven for Met fans. 1432 4th Street, Santa Monica. Bus R10.
O'Brien's Irish Pub at 2226 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica is the home of the local fan club of the New York Giants football team. Bus R10. (Although it's also in Santa Monica, it's 3 miles in from the beach and Rick's.) On The Thirty is the home of L.A. area Jets fans. 14622 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then transfer to Bus 150. I have been unable to find a corresponding Met fans' bar.
If your visit to Los Angeles is during the European soccer season (which is in progress), the best soccer bar in the L.A. area is The Fox & Hounds (that's plural), 11100 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. Metro Red Line to Universal/Studio City, then Bus 150 or 240 to Ventura & Arch.
Sidelights. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, in spite of not having Major League Baseball until 1958, has a very rich sports history. And while L.A. is still a car-first city, it does have a bus system and even has a subway now.
UPDATE: You may need it if you visit L.A. during the 2028 Olympics, which it has been awarded.
* Angel Stadium. Known as Anaheim Stadium from 1966 to 1996 and Edison International Field of Anaheim from 1997 to 2004, the Angels have called this place home for half a century -- making it the 4th-oldest ballpark currently active, but the 2nd-oldest in the L.A. area behind Dodger Stadium.
Known as the Big A for its A-shaped, halo-topped scoreboard, it was expanded in 1979, with football bleachers for the Rams, taking capacity from 43,000 to 69,000, making it "The Bigger A," as a smaller A-frame was put atop the bleachers, while the original scoreboard was moved out to the edge of the parking lot as a message board. It's still there, 50 years after the stadium's opening.
The Angels have reached the Playoffs 10 times, but only won 1 Pennant, in 2002, defeating the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Rams, playing here from 1980 to 1994, didn't have much more success, reaching the NFC Championship Game in 1985 and 1989, but not reaching the Super Bowl. It also hosted the Southern California Sun of the World Football League in 1974 and '75, and the California Surf of the original North American Soccer League from 1978 to 1981. College football's Freedom Bowl was played here from 1984 to 1994.
* Wrigley Field. Yes, you read that right: The Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels played here from 1925 to 1957, and the AL’s version played their first season here, 1961. The PCL Angels were a farm team of the Chicago Cubs, and when chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. bought them both, he built the Angels’ park to look like what was then known as Cubs Park, and then named this one, and then the Chicago one, Wrigley Field. So this ballpark was Wrigley Field first. The Angels’ PCL rivals, the Hollywood Stars, shared it from 1926 to 1935. Its capacity of 22,000 was too small for the Dodgers, and the AL Angels moved out after one season.
The PCL Angels won 5 Pennants while playing here: 1926, 1933, 1934, 1947 and 1956. They won these on top of the 7 they won before moving in: 1903, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1916, 1918 and 1921. So that's 12 Pennants total. The Stars won Pennants here in 1929 and 1930. It hosted a U.S. soccer loss to England in 1959 and a draw vs. Mexico the next year.
Torn down in 1966, it lives on in ESPN Classic rebroadcasts of Home Run Derby, filmed there (because it was close to Hollywood) prior to the 1960 season. Mickey Mantle was a fixture, but the only other guy thought of as a Yankee to participate was Bob Cerv (then with the Kansas City A’s). Yogi Berra wasn’t invited, nor was Moose Skowron, nor Roger Maris (who had yet to play his first game in Pinstripes).
42nd Place, Avalon Blvd., 41st & San Pedro Streets. Metro Red Line to 7th Street/Metro Center station, transfer to Number 70 bus. Be careful, this is South Central, so if you're overly nervous, you may want to skip this one.
* Gilmore Field. Home to the Hollywood Stars, this 13,000-seat park didn’t last long, from 1939 to 1957. The Stars won PCL Pennants here in 1949, 1952 and 1953. A football field, Gilmore Stadium, was adjacent. CBS Television City was built on the site. 7700 Beverly Blvd. at The Grove Drive. Metro Red Line to Vermont/Beverly station, then either the 14 or 37 bus.
* Dodger Stadium. Walter O’Malley’s Temple of Greed has been home to the Bums since 1962 -- shockingly, for those of us raised on the myth of the Brooklyn Dodgers, that not only means it's lasted longer than Ebbets Field did, but it's now the 3rd-oldest stadium in the majors, behind only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. (Anaheim is 4th, a few months older than the Oakland Coliseum.) However, the place is now in the process of being modernized, little by little, and Magic fully intends that, having seen a 50th Anniversary, the Chavez Ravine amphitheatre will see a 100th.
The Dodgers clinched over the Yankees here in 1963 and took 3 straight from them in 1981; the Yanks took 2 of 3 in 1977 and clinched here in 1978. Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, Tommy & Willie Davis, Steve “Not My Padre” Garvey, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Orel Hershiser, Kirk Gibson. Just don’t wear San Francisco Giants gear here, or they might try to kill you. No, I’m not kidding: Against all other teams, they show up in the 3rd inning and leave in the 7th Inning Stretch; against San Fran, they turn into Raiders fans.
The Angels shared it from 1962 to 1965, printing "Chavez Ravine" (the name of the geological formation previously there) on their tickets instead of "Dodger Stadium."
It has never hosted a pro football or soccer team, but there have been college football games played there. Despite being the designated home team, the Kings lost an NHL Stadium Series game to the Ducks at Dodger Stadium in 2014. The Beatles played their next-to-last concert here on August 28, 1966.
1000 Elysian Park Avenue, Los Angeles. Too far to walk from the nearest subway stop, and while there is a Dodger Stadium Express bus, it only operates on Dodger home game days.
* Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Probably the most famous building in the State of California, unless you count San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge or the HOLLYWOOD sign. The University of Southern California (USC) has played football here since 1923. The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) played here from 1928 to 1981, when they inexplicably moved out of the Coliseum, and the city that forms their name, into a stadium that could arguably be called USC’s other home field.
The Coliseum was the centerpiece of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. It was home to the NFL’s Rams from 1946 to 1979 and the Raiders from 1982 to 1994, and to a number of teams in other leagues, including the AFL’s Chargers in 1960 before they moved down the coast to San Diego.
The Dodgers played here from 1958 to 1961 while waiting for Dodger Stadium to be ready, but the shape of the field led to a 251-foot left-field fence, the shortest in modern baseball history. They got the biggest crowd ever for an official baseball game, 92,706, for Game 5 of the 1959 World Series; 93,103 for Roy Campanella’s testimonial, an exhibition game against the Yankees on May 7, 1959; and the largest crowd for any baseball game played anywhere in the world, 115,300, for a preseason exhibition with the Red Sox on March 29, 2008, to celebrate their 50th Anniversary in L.A.
A crowd of 102,368 on November 10, 1957, for a rivalry game between the Rams and the San Francisco 49ers, stood as a regular-season NFL record until 2005. Ironically, the first Super Bowl, held here on January 15, 1967 (Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 17) was only 2/3 sold -- the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. Super Bowl VII (Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7) was also played here.
It has hosted 20 matches of the U.S. soccer team -- only Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington has hosted more. The U.S. has won 9 of those games, lost 7 and drawn 4. In 1967, as 2 separate leagues bid for U.S. soccer fans, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves and the Los Angeles Toros. Those leagues merged to form the original North American Soccer League, but the Coliseum only hosted that league in 2 more seasons, for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1977 and 1981.
Officially, the Coliseum now seats 93,607, and will again be the home of the Rams for the 2016, '17 and '18 seasons, before their new stadium in Inglewood is ready. It would likely be a stopgap home for the Raiders or the Chargers if they should move back. Oddly, since both teams moved away after the 1994 season, the Oakland Raiders seem to be the most popular NFL team in Los Angeles County, but the much closer San Diego Chargers, 90 miles away, are the most popular team in Orange County.
* Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Next-door to the Coliseum, it opened in 1959, and hosted the Democratic Convention the next year, although John F. Kennedy gave his acceptance speech at a packed Coliseum, debuting his theme of a “New Frontier.”
The NBA’s Lakers played here from 1960 to 1967, the NHL’s Kings their first few home games in 1967 before the Forum was ready, the NBA’s Clippers from 1984 to 1999, the ABA’s Stars from 1968 to 1970, the WHA’s Sharks from 1972 to 1974, the 1968 and 1972 NCAA Final Fours (both won by UCLA, over North Carolina and Florida State, respectively), USC basketball from 1959 to 2006, and UCLA basketball a few times before Pauley Pavilion opened in 1965 and again in 2011-12 due to Pauley’s renovation.
Due to its closeness to Hollywood studios, the Sports Arena has often been used for movies that need an arena to simulate a basketball or hockey game, a fight (including the Rocky films), a concert, or a political convention. Lots of rock concerts have been held here, and Bruce Springsteen, on its stage, has called the building “the joint that don’t disappoint” and “the dump that jumps.”
The Sports Arena will probably be torn down this year, so that a soccer-specific stadium for the new Los Angeles FC can be built on the site.
3900 Block of S. Figueroa Street, just off the USC campus in Exposition Park. The California Science Center (including the space shuttle Endeavour), the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California African American Museum are also there, and the Shrine Auditorium, former site of the Academy Awards, is but a few steps away. Number 40 or 42 bus from Union Station. Although this is on the edge of South Central, you will probably be safe.
* Rose Bowl. Actually older than the Coliseum by a few months, it opened in 1922 and, except for 1942 (moved to Durham, North Carolina for fear of Japanese attack right after Pearl Harbor), it has hosted the Rose Bowl game every New Year’s Day (or thereabouts) since 1923. As such, it has often felt like a home away from home for USC, Michigan and Ohio State. UCLA has used it as its home field since the 1982 season.
It hosted 5 Super Bowls, including the first ones won by the Raiders (XI) and Giants (XXI), plus the all-time biggest attendance for an NFL postseason game, 103,985, for SB XIV (Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Rams 19, the "home" field advantage not helping the Hornheads). And it hosted the 1983 Army-Navy Game, with Hollywood legend Vincent Price serving as the referee. The transportation of the entire Corps of Cadets, and the entire Brigade of Midshipmen, was said to be the largest U.S. military airlift since World War II.
It's hosted 18 games of the U.S. soccer team, most recently a loss to Mexico last October 10; and several games of the 1994 World Cup, including a Semifinal and the Final, in which Brazil beat Italy on penalty kicks. It also hosted several games of the 1999 Women's World Cup, including the Final, a.k.a. the Brandi Chastain Game. It was home to the Los Angeles Galaxy from their 1996 inception to 2002, including the 2000 CONCACAF Champions League and 2002 MLS Cup wins.
In NASL play, it hosted the Los Angeles Wolves in 1968, and the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1978 and 1979. They played at Weingart Stadium at East Los Angeles College in 1974, their 1st season, when they won the NASL title; and Murdock Stadium, at El Camino Junior College, in 1975 and '76. Yes, the defending champions of America's top soccer league played at a junior college. This was American soccer in the Seventies.
Rose Bowl Drive & Rosemont Avenue. Number 485 bus from Union Station to Pasadena, switch to Number 268 bus.
* Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion. Following their 1964 (and soon their 1965) National Championship, UCLA coach John Wooden wanted a suitable arena for his ever-growing program. He got it in time for the 1965-66 season, and it has hosted 9 more National Championships, making for 11 banners (10 coached by Wooden).
The building was named for an oil magnate who was also a Regent of the University of California system, whose donation to its building went a long way toward making it possible. Edwin Pauley was a friend of, and appointee to several offices by, Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, but the student protests of the 1960s led him to switch sides and support Ronald Reagan for Governor.
Pauley Pavilion was the site of the 2nd debate of the 1988 Presidential campaign, where CNN anchor Bernard Shaw asked the question that shattered the campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis – not that the Duke helped himself with his answer. Oddly, he held his Election Eve rally there, despite being a Bostonian. (In contrast, Boston’s JFK held his Convention in the Coliseum complex but his Election Eve rally at the Boston Garden.)
Metro Purple Line to Wilshire/Normandie station, switch to 720 bus, then walk up Westwood Plaza to Strathmore Place. A few steps away is Drake Stadium, the track & field facility that was home to 1960 Olympic Decathlon champion Rafer Johnson and another UCLA track star you might’ve heard of, named Jackie Robinson. On the way up Westwood Plaza, you’ll pass UCLA Medical Center, now named for someone who died there, Ronald Reagan. (John Wayne, Coach John Wooden and Michael Jackson also died there.) The UCLA campus also has a Dykstra Hall, but I’m 99 percent sure it wasn’t named after Lenny Dykstra.
* The Forum. Home of the Lakers and the Kings from 1967 to 1999, built by their then-owner, Jack Kent Cooke, who went on to sell them and buy the NFL’s Washington Redskins. It was known from 1988 to 2003 as the Great Western Forum, after a bank. The Lakers appeared in 14 NBA Finals here, winning 6, with the Knicks clinching their last title over the Lakers here in 1973; the Kings appeared in just 1 Stanley Cup Finals here, losing it. It was also home to the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks in 1997, '98 and '99.
Now owned by the Madison Square Garden Corporation, thus run by James Dolan, which means it’s going to be mismanaged. Elvis Presley sang here on November 14, 1970 and May 11, 1974. The Forum is not currently being used by any professional team, but was recently the stand-in for the Sunshine Center, the arena in the short-lived ABC sitcom Mr. Sunshine. 3900 W. Manchester Blvd.
* City of Champions Stadium. This is the current name (which will almost certainly be tossed aside for a corporate one) for the project to build a new stadium for the Rams in Inglewood, on the site of the Hollywood Park horse racing track.
Set to seat 70,000, it will have a retractable roof, and be expandable to 100,000 for Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours. It is scheduled to open for the Rams in time for the 2019 NFL season, and, by then, may host another NFL team as well. If the U.S. ever gets to host another World Cup (the next available one is 2026), it would likely be a site. Prairie Avenue and Arbor Vitae Street, across Pincay Drive from the Forum. For both facilities, use Metro Silver Line to Harbor Transitway station, switch to Number 115 bus. (Be careful, this transfer is in South Central.)
UPDATE: The Chargers have also moved to L.A., and will play at the StubHub Center in Carson as a stopgap. However, construction delays have set the City of Champions Stadium back to the 2020 NFL season. Since the NFL has a rule that any Super Bowl venue has to have 2 full seasons under its belt, to make sure all the kinks have been worked out, Super Bowl LV was moved to Tampa, and the new L.A. stadium has been conditionally given Super Bowl LVI, to be played on February 6, 2022.
* Staples Center. Home of the Lakers, Clippers and Kings since 1999, and usually the home of the Grammy Awards. The Kings won the Stanley Cup over the Devils here in 2012, and the Lakers have won 5 of their 7 NBA Finals since moving in. The Sparks won the WNBA title in 2001 and '02. The Democratic Convention was held here in 2000, nominating Al Gore.
1111 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, 30 miles from the Honda Center, making it the closest NBA arena to Anaheim. Nearest Metro stop is Westlake/MacArthur Park, 8 blocks away.
Yes, that MacArthur Park, the one where songwriter Jimmy Webb used to take the girlfriend who ended up leaving him and inspiring the song of the same title recorded by Richard Harris and later Donna Summer, and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glen Campbell, and "The Worst That Could Happen" by Johnny Maestro's later group, the Brooklyn Bridge. The worst that could happen there now, you don’t want to know: Since the 1980s it’s been a magnet for gang violence, although this was significantly reduced in the 2000s.
* Titan Stadium. On the campus of California State University, Fullerton, this 10,000-seat facility is better known for soccer, having been used for NCAA Tournament games, U.S. Open Cup matches by the Los Angeles Galaxy, and 8 games by the U.S. national team -- which is undefeated there, winning 4 and drawing 4. 800 N. State College Blvd. Metrolink Blue Line from L.A. to Buena Park, then Number 24 bus. Or Number 57 bus from Angel Stadium.
* StubHub Center. Formerly the Home Depot Center, this 30,500-seat stadium has been home to MLS' Los Angeles Galaxy since it opened in 2003, and Chivas USA from its formation in 2004 until it went out of business in 2014. Now, for the 2017 and '18 seasons, it will be the home field of the Los Angeles Chargers, until the City of Champions Stadium opens.
Aside from the regular-season title of the Western Conference in 2007, Chivas USA, a subsidiary of the legendary Guadalajara, Mexico-based Chivas, won nothing. But the Gals -- yes, they get that feminized nickname -- have won more MLS Cups than any other team, 5: 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014, all but the 1st while playing here. They also won the CONCACAF Champions League, in 2000, and the U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and 2005.
It's hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014. It's hosted 12 games by the national team, most recently a win over Canada on February 5, 2016, winning 8, losing 2 and drawing 2. It hosted 6 games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, including the Final, in which Germany beat Sweden.
18400 Avalon Blvd. in Carson, adjacent to Cal State-Dominguez Hills. Public transport is difficult. You'd have to take 2 buses: First, the 910 or 950 Silver Line from downtown to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center, then the 246 San Pedro-Point Fermin line. That will get you to the corner of Avalon Blvd. and Victoria Street, the northwestern corner of the stadium's property.
* Veterans Memorial Stadium. This 11,600-seat stadium, opening in 1948, was the home field for the football program at California State University at Long Beach, a.k.a. Cal State-Long Beach, CSU-Long Beach or Long Beach State, from 1955 until the program was folded in 1991.
On April 28, 1957, it was the site of the 1st game for the U.S. soccer team against Mexico on home soil. Of the 10 previous meetings, starting at the 1934 World Cup, 1 (the 1st ) was in Italy, 1 was in a tournament in Cuba, and the rest were in Mexico City. It was a qualifier for the 1958 World Cup, and it didn’t go so well: About 12,500 fans attended, most of them Mexicans coming over the border or Mexican-Americans choosing heritage over homeland, and Mexico won 7-2. Aside from that 1st match in 1934, the U.S. would not beat Mexico until 1980.
Like the old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, it is locally known as simply "The Vet." 5000 E. Lew Davis Street, about 19 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Not easy to get to by public transportation: Bus 910 or 950 to Harbor/Century Transitway Station, then Metro Green Line to Lakewood Blvd., then Bus 266 to Lakewood & Michelson, then Bus 112 to Clark & Lew Davis.
* Gersten Pavilion. This 4,156-seat arena opened in 1981 as the home court for Loyola Marymount University, best known for their 1990 postseason run that included the death of Hank Gathers. For this reason, it is known as Hank's House. 1 LMU Drive. Bus 733 to Venice & Lincoln, then Bus 3 to Manchester & Loyola.
* Gersten Pavilion. This 4,156-seat arena opened in 1981 as the home court for Loyola Marymount University, best known for their 1990 postseason run that included the death of Hank Gathers. For this reason, it is known as Hank's House. 1 LMU Drive. Bus 733 to Venice & Lincoln, then Bus 3 to Manchester & Loyola.
* Academy Award ceremony sites. The Oscars have been held at:
** 1929, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd.).
** 1930-43, alternated between the Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Blvd.; and the Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue, downtown.
** 1944-46, Grauman's Chinese Theater (more about that in a moment).
** 1947-48, Shrine Auditorium, 665. W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles (Metro Silver Line to Figueroa/Washington, transfer to Number 81 bus). Elvis sang here on June 8, 1956.
** 1949-60, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
** 1961-68, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which also hosted the legendary televised rock concert The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964, 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica (Number 10 bus from Union Station).
** 1969-87, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown;
** 1988-2001, Shrine Auditorium again.
** 2002-present, Kodak Theater (which also hosts American Idol), 6801 Hollywood Blvd (Metro Red Line to Hollywood/Highland).
All of these still stand, except the Ambassador, demolished in 2005. The site of a legendary nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, and filming site of a lot of movies, the last movie filmed there was Bobby, in honor of the building's most tragic event, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968. (Directed by Emilio Estevez, one of its stars was his father Martin Sheen, who may be the only actor ever to play both Jack and Bobby Kennedy, although not in this film.)
In addition to the above, Elvis sang at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium on June 7, 1956, the Pan Pacific Auditorium on October 28 & 29, 1957; the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino on November 12 & 13, 1972, and May 10 & 13, 1974; the Long Beach Arena on November 14 & 15, 1972 and April 25, 1976; and the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23, & 24, 1973 and November 30, 1976.
The Los Angeles area is home to a few interesting museums, in addition to those mentioned at Exposition Park. The Getty Center is an art museum at 1200 Getty Center Drive, off I-405. The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way at Zoo Drive, was founded by the Singing Cowboy and Angels founder-owner to celebrate and study the Western U.S. and Native Americans. (Metro Red Line, Hollywood/Western.) Also at Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory, at 2800 E. Observatory Avenue, should be familiar from lots of movies (including Rebel Without a Cause) and TV shows.
The Hollywood section of town (not a separate city) has a few interesting sites,and the studio tours may be worth it, but do yourself a favor and skip the tours of stars' homes. You're probably not going to see any of the celebrities. You've got a better chance of seeing one back home on the streets of New York. And stay away from the HOLLYWOOD sign. You might remember the shot of it in the ESPN film The Bronx Is Burning, when the Yankees went out to L.A. to play the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, their shot of the sign was accurate: In 1977, it was falling apart, a genuine ruin. A year later, it was restored, but it’s still no big deal up close. It was meant to be seen from afar.
Grauman's Chinese Theater, with its cemented signatures and footprints of stars, is the centerpiece of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the legendary intersection of Hollywood Blvd. & Vine Street (6931 Hollywood Blvd. at Orange Drive, also at the Hollywood/Highland Metro stop).
If you're interested in American history, especially recent history, Southern California is home to 2 Presidential Libraries. Richard Nixon's is not far from Anaheim, built adjacent to the house where he was born in 1913 at 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd. in Yorba Linda, Orange County. (All year long, they are running commemorations of his 100th birthday this past January 9.) Metrolink Orange County Line from Union Station to Fullerton, then Number 26 bus to Yorba Linda. His "Western White House" at San Clemente can be reached by I-5 or by Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner to San Juan Capistrano (the former Spanish mission where, as the song goes, the swallows return on the first day of spring) and then transferring to the Number 191 bus; however, the house, which Nixon called La Casa Pacifica, is privately owned (not by the Nixon family), and is not open to the public.
Ronald Reagan's Library is at 40 Presidential Drive in Simi Valley in Ventura County. (Reagan was born in 1911, in Tampico, Illinois, about 130 miles west of Chicago, and grew up in various northern Illinois towns before moving to California to start his acting career.) Unfortunately, the Reagan Library is next to impossible to reach without a car.
Reagan's Western White House, Rancho del Cielo outside Santa Barbara, is owned by a private foundation that can be contacted for tours. The Reagans lived together at 668 St. Cloud Road, in the Bel Air section of L.A., until Ron's death in 2004. Nancy continued to live there until her death earlier this year. 668 St. Cloud Road, in Bel Air. Metro Red Line to Vermont & Sunset, then Bus 2 to Sunset & Bel Air, and then nearly a half-hour walk.
It's been remarked that the ranch was his home, whereas anyplace they lived in "Hollywood" was her home. Ron was the cowboy and the Western libertarian conservative; she was the "star" who, upon meeting him in the late 1940s, accelerated his move away from the labor movement and toward anti-Communism (her father was a proto-Bircher/Tea Partier).
Did I forget anything important? Oh yeah, Anaheim's original tourist destination. Most people I've talked to who have been to both Disneyland in Anaheim and Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida have said that the Florida one is a lot better. Anyway, the address is 1313 S. Harbor Blvd. in Anaheim, and if you're staying in Los Angeles, just drive down I-5. Public transportation is possible, but it's a mile and a half from the closest bus stop to Disneyland's gates.
Also nearby is another theme park, Knott's Berry Farm, which preceded Disneyland by 15 years (opening in 1940). With its association with the Peanuts characters such as Charlie Brown and Snoopy (much as Disneyland and Disney World have Mickey Mouse and friends, and Six Flags uses the Warner Brothers cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny), it remains one of the top 15 most-visited theme parks in North America. Its Supreme Scream rollercoaster, 312 feet tall, is currently the tallest structure of any kind in Orange County.
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. About 6 miles due west of downtown Anaheim, 9 miles northwest of Angel Stadium, 22 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. From Anaheim, Number 50 bus to 29 bus. From Los Angeles, Number 707 to Number 460.
While Hollywood is the center of the movie industry, for both studios and location shots, Orange County might as well be on the other side of the world, let alone on the other side of I-5. The only movie I know of that was shot in Anaheim was, as you might guess, D2: The Mighty Ducks, which, unlike the original Disney movie that inspired the name of the expansion team, was shot at the real-life Ducks' arena.
Even the 1994 remake of Angels In the Outfield, which featured the baseball team then known as the California Angels, wasn't filmed there: The Northridge Earthquake damaged the stadium just enough (mainly knocking over the scoreboard) that filming was moved to the Oakland Coliseum.
Among the sports-themed movies set and/or filmed in or around Los Angeles is the 1976 kids' baseball film The Bad News Bears, whose home field was Mason Park, 10500 Mason Avenue in Chatsworth, 29 miles northwest of downtown (Bus 92 to 1st & Olive, then Bus 164 to Victory & Woodman, then Bus 158 to Mason & Devonshire); and the basketball hustlers' film White Men Can't Jump, filmed at the courts at the Boardwalk in Venice Beach (Bus 733).
So, if you can afford it, go on out and join your fellow Devils fans in going coast-to-coast, and enjoy the Devils-Ducks matchup, with memories of how they beat us in all 3 in Anaheim, but we beat them in all 4 at the Meadowlands. And enjoy the sights and sounds of Southern California.