March 8 1980 (w/ Plimsouls, Hitmakers)April 6 1980 (w/ Fear)
The Arena was located at 11445 Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City. (near Sepulveda Blvd., Slauson and the San Diego Frwy.)
The Arena (Jefferson Bowl) began to put on rock n' roll shows in January of 1980. It was very spacious with an upstairs, a large stage and plenty of room for dancing. It even had a decent sound system. On Thursday nights it presented reggae music. The rest of the week was a mixed bag of local groups playing rock and pop oriented new wave.
1980 - Some of the bands that played the Arena included:
Phil Seymour, The Textones, the Plimsouls, the Crawdady'sHitmakersCode Blue, Rubber City Rebels, MnM'sWeirdos, Gears, MotiveTwisters, Caroline PeytonA La Carte, London, De BrowX, SVT, Soul RebelsNaughty SweetiesThe PopLip ServiceRoach, Andy & the RattlesnakesPlugz, Box BoysRubber City Rebels, VisitorMinistry, IntelligenceMick Smiley, Wet PicnicToasters, Division St. ModelDaily Planet, EqualizersGary Myrick, Bates Motelthe TextonesBeachie and the BeachnutsTeddy BoysRed SneakersBabylon WarriorsMakers, Toni & the MoversHot Tip, Wild CardTrophies, JittersPhone Bill, Box BoysThe Last, X-StreamsThe Barbies, BerlinUrban SprawlBox BoysZippersUnclaimedAmerican Patrol, the Bop KatsKing Cotton and the King PinsBlastersFlamin' Groovies, PlimsoulsFearthe LastNu-Modelsthe Germsthe Mau-Mausthe GoGo's!
As a rock 'n' roll venue, the Arena was short lived. It closed its doors November 1980. It had trouble with the City about proper liquor licenses and parking spaces. Of course the City was anxious to redevelop the property. In 1987 the Arena and Jefferson Bowl was razed and a strip mall built in it's place.
Toros Arena Bowling (Jefferson Bowl)
Home of the Los Angeles Toros
11441 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City
Before it was the Arena night club, the property was part of the Jefferson Arena Bowling complex.
In the late 1950's and early 1960's, bowling and watching bowling competitions on television was hugely popular.
Popular bowling shows on TV included:
Championship Bowling ( NBC)Make That Spare (NBC)Bowling For Dollars (NBC)Celebrity Bowling (NBC)Pro Bowlers Tour (ABC, CBS)
1959 LAPL Herald-Examiner Collection
One of the chief boosters of spectator bowling was J. Curtis Sanford. Sanford was a shrewd Texas oilman and sports promoter. He founded the Dallas Cotton Bowl Classic in 1937.
In 1961 Sanford and local businessman and bowling proprietor Leonard Homel (Jefferson Bowl) hoped to cash in on the bowling craze sweeping the nation by forming the National Bowling League. They developed a plan to make bowling a coast-to-coast professional major league spectator sport.
The original cities that formed National League teams included: Los Angeles, Dallas, Cleveland, New York, Milwaukee, Newark, Omaha, Kansas City, Ft. Worth, Chicago, Fresno and San Antonio.
There was to be a 36 week playing schedule. Each week (in a six night series) a visiting team would be pitted against a home team. Each team would have a 7 man roster including a player manager. Players would be paid salaries sufficient to attract the world's greatest bowlers.
LAPL - Herald Examiner Collection
The league's first season was launched in October of 1961.
Leonard Homel built a state of the art bowling stadium at 11441 Jefferson Boulevard Culver City to house the Los Angeles Toros - the team he owned with his two brothers.
The Toros Arena was designed by architect Don Enget on a 60 x 160 ft. site. It was spacious and luxurious. There were 4 alleys which were lined on the sides and from behind by 1,150 seats rising in tiers. The seats were well padded in green, brown and orange. The plush bowling arena cost Homel close to $500,000.
A gigantic scoreboard hung above the back of the four Brunswick lanes.
Behind the tiers of seats were offices. Behind the far end of the alleys were dressing rooms for the players. A foyer was at the front of the building which contained ticket offices and a concession stand. There was a press box and TV facilities for mass viewing. Theater-type lighting and acoustics were designed with the spectator in mind.
Special lighting effects enshrined the lanes. Lights the size of ten pins shaped in the form of the regular 1 to 10 pin setup hung on each side of the scoreboard. After a shot, lights shined to indicate which pins remains standing. This was all so cool.
Spectators were charged $1.00 admission.
Homel hoped to lure at least 700 paying spectators to its gates for each match up. He also hoped for a TV package deal.
Games were televised on KTTV Channel 11 showcased the Los Angeles Toros with the Fresno Bombers live from the Jefferson Arena.
LAPL Herald Examiner Collection
However, National League Bowling turned out to be a big flop. By January 1962 Leonard Homel resigned as president of the NBL and he withdrew the Los Angeles Toros from the League.
Homel claimed that less than expected attendance and a dwindling budget forced him to throw in the towel.
Attendance had fallen to about 300 short of the 700 average needed to break even. The arena averaged about 400 for about 25 home dates.
Fans of bowling were not ready for it to be spectator sport. After all, it was a lot more fun to participate in the sport than watch it on the sidelines. Also, it was easy to watch on TV - for free.
Consequently, the floundering NBL came to an end May 6th, 1962.
By January 1962 the doors to the Arena closed and the place was for sale or rent. Homel operated it as a bowling alley for several years to come.
The bleachers down the sides of the original 4-lanes were taken out. The 800 seats that tier up to two stories behind the lanes remained in place for a few years and then they were taken out.
In place of the side bleachers, six additional lanes were installed, giving the Arena 10 alley beds. It continued to be used for regular league play. Over the years it was renamed the Jefferson Culver Bowl and eventually expanded to 24 lanes.
In 1966 several major bowling centers closed down. These closures included the Jefferson Bowl. All were closed because of various financial problems.
Mod Street West
For a short while in March of 1967 the old bowling alley was a nightclub called Mod Street West. Mod Street West was the first of its kind for Culver City. It was a night club for 18 years and up. The fashion was mini-skirts and the London mod look. Mod Street West opened with the Electric Prunes and the Pastells and the Boys. Mod Street West was co-owned by Barry Campbell and Larry Duranty. They featured local bands. They wanted to give local talent a place to perform. It cost $2.50 to dance upstairs or downstairs. The nightclub was short lived.
By October 1982 the property was slated to become a 12-story office building. However, after community protest, the office building was never built. But a mini mall came a few years later.
Culver City in a Nutshell
The Arena was located in Culver City. Culver City is located in west part of Los Angeles County, east of Marina del Rey and south of the 10 Frwy. It was founded by Harry Culver and incorporated in 1917. Most homes and commercial buildings were built pre-WW2.
Intersection of Washington and Culver Boulevards
Growing up in the '60's, one couldn't help but associated Culver City with MGM Studios and the Helms Bakery.
Postcard of downtown Culver City
Heart of Screenland
For years Culver City was the center of motion picture and television production. There were three major studios along Washington Boulevard, including; MGM Studios, Culver Studios (Selznick/Thomas Ince) at 9336 Washington Blvd and and Hal Roach Studios.
MGM was formed in 1924 and located at 10202 Washington Boulevard and ran under the management of Louis B Mayer.
However, in the 1960's the studios were in decline and much of the MGM backlot and other studios were sold, the sets raised and most redeveloped into shopping and housing. MGM is now part of Sony Pictures.
Selznick International Studios on Washington Blvd.
Culver Hotel - 9400 Culver Boulevard
It was originally named the Hunt Hotel and when it opened in 1924. At the time, the 6 story building was called a skyscraper and was the tallest building in the area.
Today the Culver Hotel remains one of the most familiar buildings in Culver City. It was built by Culver City founder Harry Culver and actor Charlie Chaplin and designed by famed L.A. architects Curlett and Beelman.
Much of the cast to the Wizard of Oz stayed here while filming the movie in 1939. It has been featured in many movies and TV shows.
Culver City Hotel
Prohibition Era Speakeasies and Nightclubs
During prohibition Culver City had one of the most popular night clubs in Los Angeles County. Frank Sebastian's Cotton Club (the Green Mill) offered Las Vegas type acts. Next to the Cotton Club was comic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle's Plantation Cafe.
Helms Bakery - 8675 Washington Boulevard
Culver City was also the home of Helms Bakery.
Anyone growing up in the '60's knew the familiar sight of the Helm's Bakery truck making it's round around the neighborhoods. Paul Helms started baking at this site in 1931 and for many years bakery was one of the major employers in the area.
Helms Bakery closed its doors in 1969.
Today the Helms Bakery site houses furniture dealers, art galleries, antique stores, restaurants and the Jazz Bakery.