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ESPN X Games 15 Kicks Off at Staples Center and Home Depot Center

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, July 30, 2009, at 09:40AM
Practice Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A skateboarder practices on the giant Big Air Ramp inside Staples Center. Athletes take off from the 300-level seats inside the arena, and must ride the elevator back up after each run.

On Wednesday afternoon, athletes from BMX and skateboarding got their first chance to make runs down the Big Air Ramp inside Staples Center. They are in town for ESPN X Games 15, which kicks off this afternoon at Staples Center and Home Depot Center.

The massive ramp made its X Games debut in 2004, when the nine-story structure was constructed in a parking lot across the street from Staples Center, towering over the corner of Figueroa and Olympic.

The ramp returned to the lot outside Staples in 2005, but then moved indoors in 2006. The lot is now site of the $2.5 billion L.A. Live entertainment complex, which broke ground in September of 2005.

This year marks the first time that X Games' Downtown competition presence has been limited to events inside Staples Center. Last year, the skate park was constructed on L.A. Live's Event Deck, but this year that sport has moved down to Home Depot Center.

Jack Wienert, Executive Director for Global X Events and Development, said yesterday that the sports' changing needs require constant updates to the X Games venues. "We really each year try to adapt to what the skaters are normally participating on so we give them the opportunity to show their skills the best," he said.

This year, the Home Depot Center skate park features poured concrete bowls, something that wouldn't have been logistically feasible on top of an L.A. Live parking garage.

Holding one event in two venues so far apart presents challenges. "The split venue hurts," Wienert said. "The highway system hurts. The traffic hurts... But we still manage to draw very good crowds. AEG has been a wonderful partner, not only with their facilities but with their cooperation."

ESPN's contract with AEG, owner of the two venues as well as the L.A. Live complex, expires this year, so it remains to be seen whether a different configuration might be used next year.

Events inside Staples Center take place Thursday and Friday. This evening, Moto X Best Whip, Skateboard Big Air Final and Moto X Step Up Final will be featured on ESPN from 6 - 9pm PST. On Friday, Skateboard Big Air Rail Jam Final, BMX Freestyle Big Air Final and Moto X Best Trick Final will be at the venue, and the television broadcast runs from 5pm to 8pm PST.


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