The Galen Center is a multipurpose indoor arena and athletic facility owned and
operated by the University of Southern California. Located at the southeast corner of
Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street in the Exposition Park area of Los Angeles, it is
right across the street from the campus and near the Shrine Auditorium and is the home
of the USC Trojans basketball and USC Volleyball teams. The architectural firm behind
the design of the Galen Center is HNTB. In addition to basketball and volleyball events,
the Galen Center will host concerts, pageants and theatrical performances. Local high
school graduation ceremonies as well as CIF championships and the Academic
Decathlon will also be held at the Galen Center.
USC had planned to build an on-campus indoor arena for over 100 years. Before the
Galen Center, USC basketball had been played at a variety of locations, including the
neighboring Shrine Auditorium stage, the old Pan-Pacific Auditorium in the Fairfax
District, and since 1959 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
The final push to build the new facility began in 2002, when Louis Galen, a successful
banker and long time Trojan fan, and his wife Helen donated $10 million to the new
center immediately after USC football quarterback Carson Palmer won the 2002 Heisman
Trophy. The Galens donated an addition $25 million to the project to have the building
named after them and later upped their donation an additional $15 million to make sure
that a connected practice facility would also bear their name, bringing the total donation
to $50 million. Previously, the USC men's and women's basketball teams practiced at the
smaller, on-campus North Gym. The Galen Center replaced the Los Angeles Memorial
Sports Arena as the home for USC men's and women's basketball.
Galen Center construction cost an estimated $147 million, which includes the arena, team offices, and a state of the art practice facility. The
largest tax revenue would be generated by the city of Los Angeles' 10 percent parking tax. Other sources of tax revenue will include sales tax,
utility users tax, business license tax, and income from advertising. In addition, two new parking structures were built: a 1,200-space structure
located between the Radisson Hotel and the arena, with access from Flower Street, and a second structure at the southeast corner of Figueroa
Street and Exposition Boulevard. The additional parking structures also increased the available parking for both the USC campus and the
nearby Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Construction officially began on October 31, 2004, with a groundbreaking ceremony including Los Angeles City Council members Bernard Parks
and Jan Perry along with Helene and Lou Galen, longtime USC fans for whom the facility is named after.
The first event, a women's volleyball game between USC and Stanford University, took place on October 12, 2006. The first concert at the
Center was October 21, 2006 and featured Al Green. The first men's basketball was held on November 16th against the University of South
Jim Sterkel Court
The Galen Center's basketball court was named after former USC Basketball player Jim Sterkel, who played for Troy for two unremarkable
seasons in the 1950s, averaging only 10 points a game. Two unique factors in the naming rights were the obscurity of the name choice and that
the Sterkel family was not aware that the court was named after the late Jim Sterkel until after the facility had already opened. An anonymous
donor and longtime friend of Sterkel made the $5 million dollar donation under the agreement that his name never be revealed. In an interview
with Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke, Anonymous revealed that he grew up with Sterkel: both attended Mark Keppel High School, both
began at USC in 1955 and were roommates, and though Sterkel never graduated from USC, the two remained friends. Later in life, Sterkel was
hired by Anonymous, who had become a successful businessman. When Sterkel contracted cancer, Anonymous helped with his treatment.
When Anonymous' own son contracted leukemia, Sterkel wrote a poem for Anonymous, sealed it, and ordered it only to be read if Anonymous'
son died. Sterkel died from cancer in 1997, Anonymous' son succumbed less than two years later. Touched by the poem and Sterkel's care,
Anonymous made the donation to the Galen Center noting: "Some people don't deserve to be forgotten."
Other Facility Info
The facility is 255,000 square feet, with a 45,000 square feet pavilion, and has three practice courts and offices. The seating capacity is 10,258,
and there are 22 private suites. The rights to purchase tickets for approximately 1/3 of the seats are being sold through lifetime personal seat
licenses, or PSL's, ranging from $2500-$10,000 per seat. PSL holders, who will be honored as "Galen Founders", will have the first right of
refusal to purchase tickets for their seats for all sporting events and concerts held at the arena. Founders will have priority access to the on-site