From the outside
very little about Oracle Arena, which appears to have dropped out of the sky
onto a vast parking lot outside of Oakland, says Hollywood. Until recently the
same was true on the inside, but during the Warriors' shocking playoff upset of
the Mavericks the crowds at Golden State's home grew as beautiful as any in
L.A. Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Owen Wilson, Penny Marshall, Santana, Snoop
Dogg and Woody Harrelson all cropped up courtside. Last month Snoop (along with
Luke Wilson and Rachel Hunter) also took in a Ducks playoff game in Anaheim,
adding some star power to another venue generally short on celebrities.
Are these stars
really rabid Warriors and Ducks fans? Maybe, but sports event appearances can
also be as orchestrated as a gig on The Tonight Show. As a Warriors
spokesperson says, having a celeb in the house creates a cool factor:
"Suddenly you can look at [a Warriors game] like the place to be."
Golden State insists it didn't recruit the stars who've been showing up for the
playoffs. But the NHL, which is desperate for buzz, works hard to get at least
B-list butts into its seats. Last year the league, with the help of Los
Angeles--based p.r. firm Rogers & Cowan, created a celebrity recruiting
program. The NHL has distributed what it calls the ICE Card to some 40 actors,
musicians and other celebs; cardholders can call an 800 number on the back to
get free tickets whenever and wherever they want.
(below), Christina Aguilera, Elisha Cuthbert, Rachel McAdams and Oscar winner
Cuba Gooding Jr. are among the cardholders. The NHL also created an
"entertainment advisory board" (it includes movie producers Jerry
Bruckheimer and Barry Josephson) to brainstorm ways to make games and
broadcasts more fun for fans. It's hoped that both efforts will make a sport
that has trouble attracting attention feel hip again. "We are in the
entertainment business," says NHL senior vice president of communications
Bernadette Mansur. "Everybody needs to remain relevant."