"Sports-ageddon" at L.A.'s Staples Center

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES -- Last July, Los Angeles survived "Carmageddon," when a major highway was closed for an entire weekend.

This weekend, it was time for "Sportsageddon."

The L.A. Kings, Lakers, and Clippers all had playoff games in the same arena - four games in two days.

It's great for the fans, but unprecedented for the workers who have to clean up and change things around.

In a city synonymous with makeovers, the transformation inside L.A's gleaming downtown arena would make even the best surgeon's head spin.

The Staples Center is not only the proud home of the National Basketball Association's Lakers and Clippers, but the National Hockey League's Kings, whose ice rink sits beneath the two very different basketball courts.

And this year, for the first time in 13 years, all three roommates are in the playoffs at the same time - which makes home field advantage a little complicated.

"When we're done today," Staples Center Senior Vice President and General Manager Lee Zeidman says, "we'll have had 17 playoff games in this building, after tonight's game. There are buildings that don't do that in years! And that's in this season."

Zeidman is sort of the mayor of the Staples Center.

He presses the flesh like he's running for re-election - but he might be accused of being a bit of a flip-flopper.

His Staples Center has morphed from ice, to hardwood, back to ice, back to hardwood, back to ice again six different times in just 80 hours.

"This is unprecedented," Zeidman observes. "I like to call it the perfect storm. This will never happen in any arena anywhere in this country."

The transformations are races against the clock, and the man in charge of it all is a coach in his own right, leading a team of 35 workers, who are like master puzzle solvers - but on a grand scale.

No one else in the country is under that kind of pressure, but Staples Center Operations Manager David Edford says, "It's fantastic!"

Really? "It absolutely is."

With four games back-to-back this weekend, Edford had a narrow window.

Switching from hockey rink to basketball court takes the longest.

"It's a musical chairs type of scenario," Edford says. "Court will be going down, glass will be coming down, chairs will be going in place. ... (It is) organized chaos."

And there's little room for error. In fact, it's so precise that, if any of the basketball floor panels is even a quarter of an inch off, they have to tear the entire floor up, and start all over again.

But the playing surface is only half the Staples Center's battle.

With a quarter of a million fans descending on the arena for all those playoff games - someone has to feed them.

That's the job of Staples Center Executive Chef Joseph Martin.

In a lot of ways, it's like the playoffs for Martin, too, because it's as intense as it gets.

"We get judged on how well we perform, just like the teams do," Martin points out, "And now we kind of had to up our game for the playoff stretch."

Martin and his team of more than 150 cooks made more than 2,000 pounds of chicken wings, 21,000 hot dogs, 2,200 caramel apples - all washed down with 100,000 servings of suds.

And then, there's the trash.

Hundreds of pounds of it have to be cleaned up in-between games, one sticky row at a time.

Fans never see any of that.

It's all done out of the spotlight - but the craziness that was somehow tamed during L.A.'s triple round of playoffs this weekend certainly deserves an audience of some sort - or at the very least, a cheer or two.

  • Lee Cowan

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