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Building a Home Court Advantage

This year, the Clippers are making big changes to their home court experience at Staples Center, in an effort to change one of the more quiet fan-bases in the NBA into a powerhouse that intimidates opposing teams and helps the Clippers win games.

Erik Olsgaard

While not everyone loves every change Steve Ballmer's made since becoming the owner of the Clippers, it's undeniable that he's made his presence felt. During Donald Sterling's 30+ year tenure as owner of the Clippers, he never really made much of an investment in building out the organization. DTS put in just enough for the team to be profitable, and that's it. Winning was never on his priority list, as winning does not have a direct relationship with making money (see Forbes’ valuations for the New York Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs).

This year, the Clippers have been addressing the issue in both the basketball and business operations, as evidenced by all of the new hires in the 2016-17 season (sort the "Years in Role" column ascending, and just look at how many are in their 1st year with the team). The Clippers are much like a start-up, constantly growing and adding new talent with the hope that this new infrastructure will begin to manifest itself on the court, as it does with other elite teams in the NBA.

In addition to the personnel changes, new initiatives have also been put in place; one of which is focused on getting more participation from the fans. As noted here by Kurt Helin, this isn't just a goal for the organization, but for the players as well. And as a result of this initiative, changes have been made to the fan experience at Staples Center for the 2016-17 season. The idea is that if the Clippers show the fans some love, the fans will find a way to impact the game, as is the case in many other arenas. Too long have we watched opposing fans cheer louder than us, even in our own building. This is our call to attention.

I attended the 2016-17 home opener on October 30th, so I decided to see the changes for myself.


Perhaps the most prominent additions are on the 300-level. Headlined by the hashtag #KeepIt300, the Clippers are trying to get the 300-level fans more involved. As of the home opener, there are now a number of new booths that are located near sections 318 and 334, which are open and available to fans through the end of the 3rd quarter.

Sign Making Station

The "Sign Making Station" was pretty busy, with lots of kids whose attention spans don't lend themselves particularly well to 3+ hour long games, drawing pictures and signs they could hold up during the game.

I definitely did NOT edit this picture for legal reasons.

As is Staples Center policy, the signs are no larger than 11 x 17 inches, just like ones you can bring in from the outside. But if you don't feel like bringing your own sign (that could easily get wrinkled or covered in beer) you now have the option of stepping out during a timeout, making a sign, and flailing around like a maniac to try and get on the jumbotron.

Get Posterized & The Hologram Experience

These two stations, on opposite sides of the arena, allow fans to stand in front of a green-screen and get a picture emailed to them. First, with "Get Posterized" you can choose from three different backgrounds:

And here's my wife (@AY_23) getting dunked on by DeAndre Jordan:

“First Team All Defense”

Next, with "The Hologram Experience" you are superimposed next to an animated model of either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. It's pretty cool, they introduce themselves to you, and then they pose for a picture. We chose the Chris Paul hologram:

Left me hanging like a chump.

Overall Atmosphere

In addition to the 300-level-focused stations mentioned above, there are other changes at Staples that have immediately improved the ambiance (in my opinion, anyway). But if you aren't a fan of bright lights and loud noises, then---wait, what are you doing at an NBA game?


There are new, bright red banners everywhere that really make the arena look truly Clipper-branded. One in particular is a direct shoutout to famed superfan group Section 114. How's that for showing love to the fans?


The lighting of the arena looks different too. Last year we got the laser shows and light-up bracelets, which are still in full effect:

Big thanks to Jul Jessup (@realJJ) for the photo!

But now the lighting throughout the game is much more colorful, with red and blue spotlights constantly scanning the crowd during time-outs or other breaks in the action. It's subtle, but it's honestly much more visually stimulating than the sleepy florescent glow of years past:


Holy cow, this is the big one for me. Shortly after tip-off, the new sound in the arena blew me away, probably because I have always particularly disliked the former monotonous nature of the old Clipper music during games. You know the tune: dun-da-da, dun-da-da, dun-dun, *clap clap*. Over and over and over again. Now listen to this:

That's not just some recording; it's a pipe organ played by an actual human. And that actual human also hits a cowbell during offensive sets that speeds up as the shot clock winds down. The "de-fense" drum hits harder, and is also controlled by a person now (you can hear them mess up the rhythm a little bit at the end of the clip):

I mean, this all sounds kind of dumb on paper. But seriously, go to a game and tell me you can't tell the difference in the audio experience at Staples. These are all things that have existed in other arenas (hell, even at the same arena for that other LA team) and are now finally making their way to Clipper games. It's about time.

Chuck the Inflatable Condor

Last, but not even close to least, there's a new incarnation of the Clippers' love-him-or-hate-him mascot, Chuck the Condor:

That's not just some recording; it's a pipe organ played by an actual human. And that actual human also hits a cowbell during offensive sets that speeds up as the shot clock winds down. The "de-fense" drum hits harder, and is also controlled by a person now (you can hear them mess up the rhythm a little bit at the end of the clip):

Thanks for that, Clippers. Thanks.

It Does Take Everything

Look, we've seen the Twitter jokes about this season's hashtag, but the team is clearly taking the slogan seriously. The Clippers seem committed to winning a championship using everything in their arsenal (no matter how expensive), including trying to finally develop a proper edge in home games. No, the Clippers' arena isn't going to turn into Oracle or Moda Center overnight, but if opening night was any indication, things are moving in the right direction.