Warm Reception for the Grammys

Staples Centers hosts its 17th of the last 18 Grammy Awards

  • by Linda Deckard
  • Published: February 14, 2017

Staples Center, Los Angeles, hosted a full house of 14,000 at the Jan..30 Grammys.

Amid unconfirmed reports the 2018 Grammys will return to Madison Square Garden, New York. Lee Zeidman, president of L.A.’s Staples Center for AEG and host to the 2017 event, told NARAS officials he'd send trucks up to Mammoth Mountain to bring back snow so they could get a feel for what that might mean.

Declining to confirm or deny those rumors, Zeidman added it is also rumored they’ll be back at Staples Center 2019 and beyond.

“I can tell you, based on those rumors, I went to them [NARAS] and told them I’m going to do a deal with Mammoth Mountain and truck in 25 tons of snow and put it in and around Staples Center and on the streets so they can get a good idea of what it will be like if they do move to New York in 2018,” Ziedman said, half joking. “I told them I would do that Sunday, but it will be 72 degrees, so it will be slush by the time you get here.”

Regardless of that probable happenstance (2018 will mark the Grammys 60th anniversary), Zeidman could not have been more pleased with this year's event Sunday, Feb. 12. The arena hosted 14,000 guests, posting an impressive $48 per cap on food and drink provided by Levy Restaurants.

Suite sales were the big driver for food and beverage. AEG sold 120 of the 160 suites, Zeidman said. The rest are behind the stage and were used for media and dressing rooms.

“One of these days, if they do it in the round, we will sell all the suites but, right now, they encroach pretty far out there from a production standpoint,” Zeidman said of the end-stage setup. “We’ve danced with [in-the-round] a few times, but couldn’t make the economics work. We even worked with them on getting talent in and out, and doing a show that big in the round. I think at some point they will entertain that.”

Concessions were open from 3-4:45 p.m., then shut down until the show started. Concessions reopened after the show started, but guests couldn’t take anything but water inside the bowl. “If you come out, you have to eat and drink before going back in,” Zeidman said.

For private awards shows that are televised, the rules are different. They usually don’t want people eating in the bowl, except Golden Globes, where they have champagne on the tables.

Everything from a sponsor activation standpoint is shut down, “we cover up everything,” Zeidman said.

The event involved six load-in days, including three nights of prerig and three of rehearsal, with one show day. They had 36 hours to load out so Staples Center could host L.A. Lakers basketball Tuesday.

“We hung about 305,000 pounds in our roof,” Zeidman said of the production. That compares to 315,000 pounds last year. “There were over 300 motors out there hanging everything.”

While there were a couple of technical issues, from an operations and building standpoint it was flawless. “We had the usual jockeying of dressing rooms, who goes where,” Zeidman said. “There is never enough, so we invent new ways to put people in dressing rooms.”

That includes using dressing rooms at Microsoft Theater, which is connected to the arena via a private tunnel. “We use those dressing rooms for overflow talent. The show has 23 acts, and then you factor in all the dancers and musicians. We actually use the suites behind the stage as well for dressing rooms,” Zeidman said.

Staples Center has hosted 17 of the last 18 Grammys. Ken Erhlich, who is part of the AEG family, is producer and has signed a long-term contract to continue that role. If the show moves to New York, which will likely be officially announced soon, Ehrlich goes East as well.

“We’ve been together so long now, it’s almost like another tenant in the building,” Zeidman said. “We lovingly refer to them as our fifth tenant.” The L.A. Live campus includes the Grammy Museum, which does quite a few activations around the event.

The last time the Grammys left for the Big Apple was 2003.

In 2018, Staples Center has the NBA All-Star Game and NCAA Western Regionals about this time of year.

But the Grammys are special. “It was one of the smoothest in terms of loadin and loadout. And everyone is familiar. They know the space, know who to go to to get things done,” Zeidman said. “There is a great comfort level in dealing with the same people on music’s biggest night.”

  • by Linda Deckard
  • Published: February 14, 2017