Seeing Stars: Live on Stage

Concerts at

3900 W. Manchester Boulevard (at Prairie Avenue),
Inglewood, CA. / (310) 673-1300

It was once called the "Fabulous" Forum. New owners renamed it "The Great Western Forum," and the current owners just call it "The Forum", but except for a new blue trim, it's the same grand arena. By whatever name, the Forum is a dramatic, round, indoor stadium, a modern interpretation of a Roman coliseum.

Located just north of (now-closed) Hollywood Park race track in Inglewood, the huge Forum seats over 17,500, far more than the Greek Theatre and the Universal Amphitheatre combined.

Over the years, it has been home to some of the biggest events in Los Angeles, including Lakers basketball and Kings hockey, as well as special sporting events such as boxing and wrestling matches, and big-arena entertainment like the Ringling Bros circus, major rodeos, and the Ice Capades.

But most star-gazers were more interested in the Forum's major rock concerts. In its glory days, you could see some of your favorite musical performers live on stage here:

   

Janet Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Celine Dion, Elton John, R.E.M., Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Bob Seger, Madonna, Prince, the Jackson 5, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, the Spice Girls, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, Queen, Phil Collins, Yes, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Meat Loaf, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Luther Vandross... even Elvis Presley did a concert here. If a performer could fill the (then) 19,000 seats, the odds are that their concert tours would bring them to the Forum.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Elton John as saying: "The Forum is one of my favorite places to play in America. Along with Madison Square Garden in New York, it has always represented something special to me, something prestigious. It's a big venue, but people are very close to you. I always look forward to going back." And sure enough, he performed to sell-out crowds there again in early 1998.

According to Mel Gibson, actress Rene Russo ("Lethal Weapon 4," "Ransom") was discovered by a Hollywood agent in the parking lot of the Forum, when she was coming out of a Rolling Stones concert, daydreaming about marrying Mick Jagger.

Many stars also turned out as spectators to watch the Lakers and Kings play here.

But the Forum faced a significant challenge when the new Staples Center opened in downtown L.A. in 1999. Both the Lakers and the Kings soon moved to the Staples Center, and most industry people believed that the Forum would also lose concerts to the new venue (as it had to the Arrowhead Pond). Forum officials hoped that by offering a wider choice of dates (without the scheduling conflicts caused by the sports teams) and lower costs, they'd be able to continue to book major concerts on a regular basis. And they did at first: N*Sync played a concert at the forum in late November, they booked a big concert by Bon Jovi for December, and Elton John & Billy Joel performed together in concert on February 6, 2000.

Meanwhile, Hollywood continued to come to the Forum. In 2000, filmmakers used the arena to film the basketball scenes from the devilish Brendan Fraser/Elizabeth Hurley comedy "Bedazzled."

However, at the end of 2000, the Faithful Central Bible Church announced that they bought the Forum for $22.5 million. The 10,000-member church planned to use the arena for Sunday services and also keep booking sports and entertainment events.

Get the ClickAt Base Widget widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info) But things didn't work out as planned.

Apparently, some people got the idea that the Forum was now strictly a church, and concert bookings fell off.

There were a few notable concerts in the following years, but by 2010, the Forum was mostly sitting unused.

Fortunately, in December of 2010,  New Yorks' Madison Square Garden bought the Forum from the church for a reported $23 million, and spent $100 million restoring it, and transforming it into a full-time concert venue. .

Because the Staples Center is home to so many sporting events, it is often unavailable for concerts. And with the close of the Universal (Gibson) Amphitheatre, there is certainly room in L.A. for another concert venue.  The newly refurbed Forum also puts the audience closer to the performers than Staples, and it has cushy theatre-style seats, rather than the usual baseball-style hard seats.

The restored Forum reopened in January of 2014 with an Eagles concert, and had already scheduled future concerts for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Paul Simon & Sting.

So, the Forum is back.


[For more information about Hollywood stars who came to the Forum
to watch Basketball & Hockey games, see this separate page.]

 Getting there: The Forum is located at the southeast corner of Prairie Avenue and Manchester Boulevard, in Inglewood. / From the San Diego (405) Freeway, take the Manchester Boulevard offramp. Go east on Manchester (about a mile) to Prairie Avenue. You can't miss it.


[For more information on this subject, you can access a seating chart of the Forum online at: http://www.tixx.com/SeatingCharts/GWF.htm.]


[Or you can access the Forum's official website at: http://www.gwforum.com.]



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Copyright © 2014-Gary Wayne
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