The Faithful Central Bible Church has owned the Forum since 2000. The church purchased the iconic landmark for 22.5 million dollars “envisioning a family entertainment venue with concerts, shops, restaurants and a hotel that would create hundreds of jobs in an underserved area while generating income for the church and its mission,” Richard Verrier, LA Times.
Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn, the churches dream never came to pass. Today, the Forum sits mostly vacant and silent, a monument to a bygone era when it was known as the Fabulous Forum and hosted such acts as the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. The shops, restaurants and hotel never materialized and the concert bookings have slowed to a trickle in the last year according to the LA Times.
Faithful Central has struggled to keep the venue profitable. “We’re in a challenging situation right now,” [Bishop Kenneth] Ulmer acknowledged in an interview with Gospel Today. Madison Square Garden, which owns the landmark New York venue of the same name as well as Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater, among others, “is in the process of finalizing the purchase” of the Forum sports arena in Inglewood, CA according to Billboard.com. “Our goal,” said Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, pastor of FCBC and visionary for the procurement of the Forum, “was to have a positive economic impact on the community—[by] providing both entertainment and jobs.
The Forum was never purchased to be turned into a church. However, as the economy and entertainment industry began to change, the economic viability of the Forum suffered negative impact. The Forum holds 18,000 people, compared to the 20,000-capacity Staples Center, which, like the neighboring Club Nokia and Nokia Theatre, is owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group.
The Venue, which was at one point the home to the Lakers and the Kings, was once the preeminent large concert venue in the city. That changed with the opening of Staples Center in 1999. If indeed the purchase comes to pass, it could change the landscape of the concert business in Los Angeles once again. Moving forward, Bishop Ulmer says as for the future “We are considering how we balance the realities of the economy with our mandate for ministry.”
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