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Arts & EntertainmentHow-to

A Beginner’s Guide to a Night at the Staples Center

If you’re anything like me, a Los Angeles newbie with a bucket list of places to visit before the undergraduate days are over, a concert at the Staples Center will likely be somewhere on that list. So when a friend presented me with an extra ticket to the 2014 Jingle Ball concert, I jumped at the opportunity, and I must say, I learned quite a lot in the process. If you’re new to LA or just haven’t been to the Staples Center, here are a few pieces of advice that I have compiled from the Friday night excursion.

In my particular situation, I found out I was going to Jingle Ball one week prior to the event. Fortunately for me, my friend had already bought and printed our tickets, but I still wanted to prepare myself for the night by looking up transportation routes, concert reviews and my seat location. I decided to do some basic research via Google and found out that the line-up for the event, sponsored by KIIS FM, consisted of 12 artists including Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea and host Nick Jonas. From the concert reviews, I got a better sense of how much money to bring and how long the event would last. This brings me to my first point:

Do some research in advance. 

The Staples Center and its surrounding area have very high traffic before and after major events. It’s helpful to prepare an estimate of how much money to bring for a taxi or Uber ride and to foresee any other bumps in the road.

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To save some money, my friend and I wanted to take a bus to and from the concert, but my roommate advised us not to take public transportation back from the concert for safety reasons and because of how late we would be coming home. Getting there, we took the Metro Rapid 720 from the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood at around 4:30 p.m., planning to get off on Broadway and 5th and walk a couple blocks to catch another bus. A woman on the 720, however, overheard our transportation plans and recommended a different route, which we decided to take. She advised us to instead get off the bus on Vermont and then take the red line of the Metro (underground subway system) to 7th and Figueroa, noting that the Staples Center would be just 5 blocks away. Buying the Metro ticket was very easy, and the whole trip to the venue only cost $4.50. This brings me to another important tip:

Make sure you are familiar with where your desired bus stop is located.

If you plan on taking a bus to the Staples Center, it’s important to know that there isn’t one direct line that takes you straight to the venue. You will most likely have to switch buses or use the subway system like we did, and that could include some walking in between. If you’re not familiar with downtown L.A. or where certain streets are, don’t be shy to ask someone who is more familiar how to avoid questionable situations.

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One of the perks of arriving two hours early to Jingle Ball was the free holiday-themed carnival that took place outside the Staples Center before the doors opened. Entrance was free, and various corporate sponsors had booths set up where they were giving away samples or showing off new products. An ice-skating rink, ferris wheel and outdoor concert, which included a performance by Meghan Trainor, were also available to the public.

So, when attending a concert or game at the Staples Center, don’t forget to take advantage of freebies.

Oftentimes, there will be similar outdoor festivities with free handouts for other events where you can have some fun before the show.

Once we showed our tickets and entered through the doors, the Staples Center was really quite easy to navigate. Signs very clearly direct you to which section and row your seats are in, and ushers and other personnel in each section are available to guide you as well. Each floor had plenty of restrooms and fast food eateries, so our basic needs were definitely covered.

My last piece of advice is, if possible, to leave a couple minutes early to beat the rush of people exiting the building.

If you’re planning on taking an Uber or Lyft, you might want to walk a block or so away from the Staples Center for pick-up, but there will definitely be plenty of rides available. And don’t be surprised if the ride is a little bit on the expensive side.

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Going to my first concert at the Staples Center was definitely a learning experience, but as a newcomer to L.A., the experience was truly amazing.

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