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The Best Basketball Arenas in California
Health & Fitness

The Best Basketball Arenas in California

From hosting the biggest sporting events to becoming icons of great significance, California’s basketball arenas are truly electrifying.

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5 min read

November 13, 2021

It’s true, the players are the ones that make a basketball game exciting, but an arena can elevate the experience from fun to glorious. NBA stars performing gravity-defying moves, die-hard fans chanting their team names, having the opportunity to witness defining moments in basketball—all these take place at venues that soon become iconic. And while playing the game yourself is pretty exhilarating, the fan experience is far more sensational. From hosting the biggest sporting events in history to becoming icons of great significance to their respective cities, California’s basketball arenas are nothing but electrifying. 

A List Of The Coolest Basketball Arenas in the Golden State

Since its opening in 1999, the Staples Center has hosted some of the world's most premier events.

Staples Center 

Staples Center opened its doors to the public in 1999 and has welcomed more than 76 million visitors since. The NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, and WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks call this basketball arena their home. The arena has proven to be a pretty lucky sporting venue—the Lakers won six NBA Championships, the Kings secured two Stanley Cups, and the Sparks became WNBA champions three times. 

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It goes without saying that Staples Center has been host to a large number of prestigious concerts, sporting events, and award shows—these include three NBA All-Star Weekends, 19 Grammy Award shows, the Michael Jackson Public Memorial Service, and the Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant. Not only that, but artists like Beyonce, Jay Z, Usher, Christina Aguilera, and Cher have all performed at the arena. 

The first preseason game at the Chase Center took place on October 5, 2019, as the Warriors lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chase Center 

The latest arrival to the NBA stadium scene is San Francisco’s Chase Center—built in 2019 and home to the Golden State Warriors. The six-time NBA champions decided to move out of Oakland Arena in 2014 and privately funded the building of their own, despite protests from their loyal fans in Oakland. With the new arena, the Golden State Warriors had their basketball stadium, practice facility, and operations offices under one roof. The grand opening of the arena took place in September 2019, with a concert by iconic rock band Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony. 

Chase Center is composed of multiple layers featuring an 18,064-seat court, 580,000 square feet of office and lab area, and 100,000 square feet of retail space. There’s also a 35,000 square foot public plaza and recreation area at the center designed by landscape architecture firm SWA Group. The basketball arena features one ring of 44 suites, 32 courtside lounges, and 60 theater boxes located on the sidelines of the arena—Chase Center also has the NBA’s largest scoreboard.

Golden 1 Center sits proudly in the heart of Downtown Sacramento, less than a mile from California's first thriving business district.

Golden 1 Center 

Sitting proudly in Downtown Sacramento is Golden 1 Center, home to the Sacramento Kings. Opened in 2016, the arena represents everything that makes Sacramento the city it is today—sustainability, great design, and connectivity. The 779,200 square foot basketball arena is where you’ll hear cheers of excited fans throughout the March Madness season. While Golden 1 Center accommodates up to 17,000 fans, the capacity is expandable to 19,000 for concerts held at the arena. 

Golden 1 Center has hosted countless exciting events over the years—WWE Raw and Smackdown hold many wrestling matches here, and a number of artists perform at the arena regularly. Celine Dion, Paul McCartney, Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, and Lady Gaga have all had sold-out shows at the basketball venue. No visit to the Golden State Capital is complete without attending a basketball game here. 

Viejas Arena is built on the site of the old Aztec Bowl stadium which hosted San Diego State football games.

Viejas Arena 

Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl is a 12,414-seat, state-of-the-art basketball venue, where many All-Star players have had critical moments in their NBA careers. Home to the San Diego State University basketball teams, the arena is where fans of all ages come to cheer for the Aztecs.  Built on the site of the old Aztec Bowl football stadium, the basketball venue was initially named Cox Arena after Cox Communications, which paid fees to become the arena's corporate sponsor.

Since opening in 1997, Viejas Arena has been a venue for a number of university functions, cultural events, concerts, as well as other sporting events. Artists and bands like Britney Spears, No Doubt, and The Black Eyed Peas have held concerts here. WCW’s Bash at the Beach was also held at the basketball arena in the late 90s. Thanks to the top-notch facilities, amenities, as well as the San Diego State University’s star-studded teams, Viejas Arena is one of the premier on-campus basketball stadiums in the United States. 

The building, designed by architect Welton Becket, was dedicated in June 1965, named for University of California Regent Edwin W. Pauley.

Pauley Pavilion 

Ask any college student in the City of Angels and they’ve definitely been to a basketball game at Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s basketball stadium. Commonly known as Pauley Pavilion, the arena is home to the UCLA men and women’s basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics teams. This March Madness arena is regarded as one of the finest all-around collegiate facilities in the nation—Pauley Pavilion has been a Los Angeles community center for years now, with many sports, cultural, entertainment, and political events taking place under its roof. 

Designed by architect Welton Becket, the basketball arena hosted a number of presidential rallies, the MTV Video Music Awards in 1992, numerous Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and famous tennis matches—basically, almost every famous Californian has been here at some point. Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Dylan are among legendary performers who have taken the stage here. 

Fun fact: Despite UCLA winning plenty of tournaments over the years, the only banners displayed in the arena are for national and NCAA  Championships. 

The Galen Center's basketball court was named after former USC basketball player Jim Sterkel, who played for the Trojans for two seasons in the 1950s.

Galen Center

Owned and operated by the University of Southern California, the Galen Center is the university’s multi-purpose athletic facility. USC had planned on building a stadium for over 100 years, and that dream came true in 2002 when long-time Trojan fans Louis and Helene Galen donated $10 million to push building the new facility. The Galen Center was officially opened in 2006—it became home to the basketball and volleyball teams and a host to many concerts, pageants, and performances. 

The 10,258-seat arena hosted the High School Musical 3 premiere in 2008, the L.A. auditions of the X-Factor in 2011 and 2013, as well as the 2015 Nickelodeon's Kids’ Choice Award. The finals of League of Legends Season 2 Championship 2012 and Call of Duty League Championship 2021 were also held in the basketball arena

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