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Steve Thrap, Longtime Staples Center VP of Broadcast Ops and Beloved Industry Stalwart, Dies at 72

09/05/2024

Steve Thrap, Longtime Staples Center VP of Broadcast Ops and Beloved Industry Stalwart, Dies at 72 Visionary,' pioneer,' great friend' are some of the accolades from colleagues and friends By Jason Dachman, Editorial Director, U.S.

Thursday, May 9, 2024 - 11:00 am

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Steve Thrap, a 44-year veteran of the broadcasting industry who served nearly two decades as VP of broadcast operations at Staples Center in Los Angeles, died May 2 at the age of 72. Thrap, who spearheaded design of the broadcast infrastructure at the venue (now named Crypto.com Arena), was a beloved figure across the industry, from broadcasters and production crews to leagues and live-event organizers and beyond.

Steve Thrap in his signature Hawaiian shirt

Everyone at Cryto.com Arena and AEG was deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of our friend and colleague Steve Thrap, says Lee Zeidman, president, Crypto.com Arena/Peacock Theater/L.A. LIVE. Steve was one of the first people we hired during the development of Staples Center in 1999; was a trusted, respected, and talented member of our senior-management team for more than 17 years; and is the namesake of the arena's Steve Thrap Broadcasting Center named in his honor when he retired.

During his 18 years at the iconic venue, Thrap was part of countless historic productions, including two NHL All-Star Games, three NBA All-Star Games, seven NBA Finals, and countless Primetime Emmy Award and Grammy Award Shows. During the mid 2000s, when both the San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Lakers rivalry and American Idol were at their peak, he oversaw multiple record-breaking broadcasts - notably, the NBA Western Conference Finals and the American Idol finale - on the same night.

Steve Thrap was the mayor of the Staples Center for all broadcast visitors, says Eddie Okuno, senior production operations specialist, ESPN. He welcomed everyone with open arms. From the truck drivers to the crew, everyone was gracefully welcomed, and he made sure everything worked within his facility. If we ran into an issue, he would stop by the truck craft-services table, grab a can of Coca-Cola and a handful of mini Kit-Kats, and say, Let's go figure this shit out.' A can-do attitude, a friendly comforting, and helpful friend to all who will miss him greatly. We were all lucky to have him in our lives.

Thrap played a lead role in configuring the entire broadcast network and patch room for Staples Center, as well as the broadcast capabilities of the surrounding L.A. Live complex, which opened in 2007. His leadership and experience ensured that both the venue and the entire campus were wired to allow easy connectivity and a multitude of broadcast opportunities.

His guidance and oversight during the creation and ultimate operation of our broadcast-services department led to this division becoming one of the jewels of our arena and one that other venues modeled their own departments after, says Zeidman. Steve's counsel and advice was valued by all of us here, not to mention colleagues throughout our industry and hundreds of cameramen, engineers, reporters, and news directors from every media outlet in our city and others across the U.S. and beyond.

Steve Thrap (left) and Crypto.com Arena President Lee Zeidman at the ceremony renaming the venue's Cable Termination Room in Thrap's honor.

Upon his retirement in 2017 and in recognition of his almost 20 years of service, the Cable Termination Room was dedicated in his honor and renamed The Steve Thrap Patch Room, established 1999.

Steve Thrap was a kindhearted professional with a crusty exterior, says Steve Hellmuth, former EVP, media operations and technology, NBA. Steve set up the finest fiber arena infrastructure for broadcasters in the industry, and Lee Zeidman appropriately dedicated the patch room in his honor. Steve delighted in solving technical problems - always on the this can be done side of the equation. A real friend to broadcasters and, I am proud to say, a friend of mine.

Born in New Mexico and reared in Southern California, Thrap began his career in the 1970s as a radio engineer with KLAC Los Angeles. When KLAC acquired the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers in the mid '70s, his career in sports got a kick-start. He moved on to RKO General and then to Westwood One, where he worked on the station's coverage of the Olympic Games. A freelance engineering stint followed, eventually leading Thrap back to the Lakers, as well as the Los Angeles Kings, and a tenure at The Forum, the venue that housed both teams until Staples Center opened in 1999.

Thrap was tapped to oversee plans for the broadcast infrastructure inside Staples Center when it was being built. He worked to ensure that television and radio would have their own dedicated facilities and that the gear in the Cable Termination Room - the patch room that has been dedicated to Thrap - was always operational, functional, and well-maintained. Over the years, he oversaw the transition of the arena's broadcast infrastructure to HD, installation of hundreds of thousands of feet of fiber, and, more recently, adoption of IP-based technology.

The Steve Thrap Patch Room at Crypto.com Arena was decorated with Hawaiian shirt and lei in Steve Thrap's memory.

Steve Thrap was a visionary facilities manager, says Chris Brown, VP, tech operations, TNT Sports. He truly understood how important the relationship between the venue and broadcast entities needed to be. As one of the first (if not the first) venues to become fiber-ready as the HD revolution began, the then-Staples Center led the way with ample connectivity as well as space for multiple broadcasters. Steve will always be remembered as that pioneer and, most important, as a great friend.

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