When Madison Square Garden purchased the Forum in 2012 for $23.5 million from Faithful Central Bible Church, there were more than enough opinions about why the deal would not work.
Negative publicity about Inglewood, a depressed economy, loss of two franchise sports teams, and pessimistic residents suggested that Inglewood and its iconic entertainment venue had seen better days.
How could the Forum possibly compete with Staples Center in the absence of a sports team?
But despite both the Lakers and the Kings leaving Inglewood, the Forum came back. And its comeback continues to amaze critics. Billed as the City of Champions in the days that the Forum hosted the legendary basketball and hockey teams, Inglewood is now the City of Entertainment.
"The Forum is a home run — it's a winner," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert tracking journal, Pollstar. "I have not heard anybody say anything negative.”
That’s a huge talking point, given the image of Inglewood, perpetuated by mainstream media, as unsafe—even dangerous. Despite concerns about crime, thousands of visitors, including the Dalai Lama who spoke at the Forum in February, have found Inglewood to be a welcoming city. According to sources, the Forum hosted 50 shows in 2014 without incidents.
Since the Eagles’ opened the Forum with six historic performances last January, the venue has played host to such acts as Imagine Dragons, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Justin Timberlake, Patti Labelle, and Stevie Wonder. The star-studded Video Music Awards came to the Forum in August.
Now, one year and $100 million later, the numbers speak for themselves. Nearing the first year of its re-opening, the Forum has doubled the number of concerts at L.A.’s Staple Center and hosted almost twice as many as the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.
If 2014 was a banner year, then 2015 is looking even better. According to sources, the Forum has already booked 45 shows for next year.
"We are very, very, very happy,” Irving Azoff, music industry mogul who helped bring the Forum back, told the L.A. Times.
The only person who could possibly be happier is Inglewood Mayor James Butts.
"Since its reopening in January, the Fabulous Forum has become the destination for music-lovers in Southern California. A truly historic location, and home to some of the greatest concerts and sporting events, the Forum is back, better than ever and ready to shine for decades more. We are truly excited to shine a spotlight on the reinvented Forum and on our great city," Butts said at an April news conference announcing the VMA show.
Now, if he could just get the media to stop calling it the Los Angeles Forum. “The Forum is in Inglewood,” Butts told a crowd during a presentation to Frankie Beverly and Maze in September. “That’s Inglewood with a capital I!”