117 days after winning their second Stanley Cup in three years, the Staples Center’s resident champions and Al Michaels’ favorite team, the L.A. Kings, have gotten even more posh.
Beyond the chunky Tiffany-designed 2014 championship rings (“iced” out with 136 diamonds) and the celebrity following (Ray Romano, Cuba Gooding Jr., and “Entourage’s” hockey documentarian Kevin Connolly filling opening night seats), a new exclusive enclave a few doors down from the row of suites where ICM and other industry cornerstones entertain clients was the other new addition as the team began its title defense on Wednesday night.
You don’t need a studio deal to get in here, though you will need an Amex “black card” or a platinum card.
The American Express Centurion Suite debuted during the team’s opening night (spoiler alert) loss to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday; the sports arena cousin to their first class style lounges at select airports. It’s open to a maximum of 150 cardholders during Lakers, Clippers and Kings Games. It is a premium upgrade for a space they have used in past seasons.
“The spirit in (L.A.) is amazing,” American Express’ Kimberly Litt told TheWrap over “Go Kings Go” cheers. “We have an amazing relationship with the Staples Center and AEG to begin with, so we thought it would be a natural place to start (with arena lounges).”
In what feels like an arbitrage-situation loophole at first blush, any ticket to get in to Staples at any price or level of seating, allows a card-holder of one of those elite cards to bring up to three guests with them into the suite as their allotted “+3”.
The exclusivity and hospitality earned is a separate flight of food and top shelf liquor, a bar and lounge atmosphere, views and access close enough to hear individual punches landing on San Jose Shark faces, and a side dish of VIP sightings.
Kings legend and current executive Luc Robitaille was the first face I recognized through the double doors on Wednesday.
He may not have needed his card, but you still will. It’s not open bar or free eats, even though you do ride the elevator to the Suite Level B floor.
Unlike fellow hospitality enclave Hyde across the arena, Amex’s lounge will not be open during concerts because it is anchored behind what is sometimes Katy Perry’s or Selena Gomez‘s stage.
With the Kings on the marquee, though, the true guest of honor was the Cup itself, rolled in to the suite in a black case after it had descended from the Staples Center rafters to center ice pre-game in a plexiglass case — perhaps borrowed from the David Blaine collection — as an instrumental of Coldplay’s “Fix You” played in the arena.
Up in the Centurion Suite, the ground rules for Stanley Cup interactions were similar to a Justin Bieber meet-and-greet: Have your camera ready and no touching.
There was (barely) a game to watch from the superior seating. Kings Dustin Brown, Stanley Cup hero Alec Martinez, and goalie Jonathan Quick lost 4-0 to Sharks.