In 1988, Wayne Gretzky made hockey cool in Los Angeles. Today, the 18,118 fans that routinely pack STAPLES Center keep it that way.
The Kings are Greater Los Angeles’ team, backed by what are arguably hockey’s most loyal fans. In their 44-year history, the Kings have made only one previous Stanley Cup Final appearance, but that has not dampened enthusiasm. Over the course of the 2011-12 regular season, the Kings sold out 37 games. A year ago, the team sold out 35 of its 41 home dates and entered this year’s playoffs with a streak of 26 consecutive regular season sellouts.
Yes, Kings fans are passionate and loyal.
Because Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, many of those dedicated fans also happen to be famous. Even Hollywood stars that typically guard their privacy can’t help but go public with their love for LA’s hockey team.
It’s not uncommon to see two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks on hand, cheering on the Kings. International soccer icon David Beckham of the LA Galaxy is practically a regular. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has been seen along the glass during the postseason. Comedian Will Ferrell is a longtime fan.
Hollywood’s brightest luminaries are not content not to merely show up and be seen at Kings games. Many go the extra mile to support the team.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame both hail from Colorado, but the pair have been spotted at STAPLES Center during Kings games this spring. Parker and Stone have also gone to work for the Kings, creating and providing the South Park videos that have become as much a part of a the Kings experience as the ubiquitous white towels, which are distributed to all fans in attendance during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Eric Cartman and the kids from South Park, however, would not be able to make appearances at STAPLES Center without Frank Agnone, a South Park producer and diehard Kings fan. Agnone is the conduit between the Kings’ entertainment department and the South Park production team, making sure the videos are timely, fresh, and specific to the circumstances of each game. New South Park content will be unveiled for the Stanley Cup Final.
The presence of celebrities at Kings playoff games has not only heighted the atmosphere inside the arena, it has also lifted the team’s profile and crossed over into the cultural zeitgeist. When Hanks and his wife, actress/producer Rita Wilson, were captured smooching on the arena’s Kiss Cam during a recent game, the video quickly went viral. The 1.5 million views were the most-ever for a video on lakings.com.
While Hanks and Wilson adeptly improvised their appearance on the Kiss Cam, other celebrity appearances have come only after meticulous planning. Through AEG’s wide-reaching network, the Kings have been able to reach out to LA Galaxy stars Beckham and Landon Donovan to record videos.
The two soccer stars have been in good company. Other faithful Kings fans have done their part to make sure the atmosphere at STAPLES Center is unique to the Los Angeles experience. With Kings Fever at a fury pitch, Los Angeles sports icons Magic Johnson, Tommy Lasorda and Matt Kemp of the Dodgers are among those who have also taped videos for the STAPLES Center video board. The Lakers’ Bryant has also done a video, imploring fans to support the Kings.
Other Hollywood luminaries on hand during the Kings’ run have included actors Josh Brolin, Jon Hamm, Cory Monteith, Eric Stonestreet, Colin Hanks, Matthew Perry, Rainn Wilson, Zac Efron, and longtime Kings fan Kurt Russell; actresses who have been spotted include Rachel McAdams and Alyssa Milano.
Right about now, however, no one in LA is more popular than members of the Kings. That adoration has made the “This or That” videos featuring current players extremely popular among STAPLES Center fans.
The fans, of course, have been popular with the players, too. Their support has undeniably played a role in the team’s stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.
“I’m so proud of the way our fans and our players came together,” Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille said after his team ousted Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
These days, it seems, everyone at STAPLES Center is a star.