NBA rumors: Clippers making progress in new arena

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in advanced negotiations to purchase The Forum in Inglewood from the Madison Square Garden Company, an acquisition that would clear a major hurdle in the Clippers’ efforts to construct a new home arena in the vicinity, according to league sources.

More on New Clippers Arena

The Clippers would neither confirm nor deny the report, but issued the following statement to ESPN: "The Clippers continue to pursue plans to build a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex in Inglewood and are currently working with the city to successfully complete the comprehensive Environmental Impact Report. "We are examining every possible way to resolve our differences with Madison Square Garden Co. regarding our new arena."
The current owner of The Forum, MSG, which also owns the New York Knicks, has been locked in a protracted legal battle with the city of Inglewood and Ballmer for the better part of two years over Ballmer's parcel, which sits a mile from The Forum. MSG, whose executive chairman and chief executive officer is embattled Knicks governor James L. Dolan, alleged that the city violated an agreement not to promote competition to The Forum by working with the Clippers to develop an arena nearby. MSG also claimed the city deceived MSG by convincing it to cede land near The Forum for a technology park that was ultimately sold to Ballmer, in what MSG characterized as a back-room deal. Murphy's Bowl LLC, the entity owned by Ballmer to advance the Clippers project, intervened in the proceedings to represent the Clippers' interests in their arena project.
There are three current active suits in the battle, including two by community groups, including IRATE (Inglewood Residents Against Takings and Evictions), an organization bankrolled in part by MSG. The Environmental Impact Report for the project was submitted by Inglewood to the court on Dec. 27, with a 30-day window for community groups and interested parties to respond with concerns, a timeline that was extended another 30 days on Feb. 10. After the most recent torrent of lawsuits, the two sides began engaging in substantive discussions to resolve the stalemate. Sources say that a potential sale of The Forum proved to be the path of least resistance for both sides, which have collectively spent tens of millions of dollars on litigation, with more actions to adjudicate. Sources say an agreement is imminent.
The California Air Resources Board has granted fast-track approval to a proposed $1.2 billion Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood that should allow the project to be finished in time for a 2024 basketball season. After nearly a year of back-and-forth negotiations, CARB determined last week that the project will not result in a net increase in greenhouse gases and, thus, qualifies for special protections from environmental lawsuits that could otherwise stall construction for years.
“CARB staff conducted an evaluation of the GHG emission estimates and reduction measures submitted by the applicant, and confirmed that the applicant’s methodology, calculations and documentation are adequate,” wrote Richard Corey, CARB’s executive director, in a letter to the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Assembly Bill 987, a law passed specifically to move the Clippers project forward, required the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center to be net neutral and reduce 50 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions through local measures.
Pressing a legal challenge to a proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood, attorneys for a residents’ group told a judge on Tuesday, Nov, 5, that the city violated the California Surplus Land Act by failing to give first priority to a possible affordable housing development on the property. But lawyers for the city and developers argued the property does not qualify as surplus land. The also argued the property — which sits in the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport — is unsuitable for housing.
Uplift Inglewood members maintain that public land should be used for the public good and access to housing is central to building strong communities. Their lead attorney, Thomas Casparian, said the land should have been offered first for an affordable housing development before being offered to the Clippers. At one point, in discussing the potential economic benefits to Inglewood of using the land to build an arena for the Clippers, the judge said he assumed that other cities would be happy to have the NBA team in their communities.
As the legal fight rages over the billion-dollar arena the Clippers want to build in Inglewood, plans for the project are moving forward. The Federal Aviation Administration determined last month that 37 applications covering the bulk of the proposed Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center pose no hazard to air navigation. The green-lighted structures include a hotel, parking garages, retail buildings and signage.
Newsom was disappointed to learn that the two sides had reached an impasse over “key questions related to environmental mitigations” for the proposed arena, according to the letter. However, the governor signaled that he would not intervene in the decision-making process by CARB, an independent body tasked with determining whether the Clippers can adequately prevent a net increase in greenhouse gases and other emissions.
But the superstars have helped the Clippers almost double the number of season tickets they have sold, from 5,200 last year to 10,000 so far this year. If the Clippers can win big, they can carry that kind of business momentum into the new arena they plan to open in Inglewood in 2024.
The day after the Clippers unveiled renderings for their proposed arena, the LA 2028 organizing committee said its current plans for the Summer Olympics remain unchanged. For now. With the Games in Los Angeles based on existing venues throughout the region — including StubHub Stadium, Staples Center and the Rose Bowl — organizers have traditionally kept their options open.
The Clippers’ proposed complex would also be in Inglewood and would include training facilities. Among other nearby venues, the Forum would host gymnastics and Pauley Pavilion would have wrestling. Construction on the Clippers’ new home is scheduled to begin in 2021, with the opening three years later, well in time for the Summer Olympics.
The Clippers and Inglewood officials did not give the public enough notice about a deal to build an NBA arena in the city, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office determined in a letter released today. When the City Council voted to enter into an “exclusive negotiating agreement” with the owners of the Clippers in June 2017, it did not include in its meeting agenda a description about the location of the proposed arena or the scope of the project, according to Deputy District Attorney Bjorn Dodd.
Inglewood residents say they’ve scored a victory in their efforts to stop the construction of a Clippers arena on public land. A Los Angeles County Superior judge issued a ruling today that will allow their lawsuit over the arena to proceed to trial. Residents are trying to stop construction by arguing that under the California Surplus Land Act, the land should have been shopped around as an affordable housing development site before it was ever eyed for an NBA arena.
The lawsuit also claims that Inglewood is ignoring additional state affordable housing laws that mandate that certain amounts of low-income housing be constructed within the city. Uplift Inglewood wants to compel the city to meet those thresholds and build more affordable units in Inglewood. The trial is set to move forward in September.
The day before the Clippers announced plans to explore building an arena in Inglewood, business mogul Irving Azoff floated an idea to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and top advisor Linda Rambis about a move that could undercut the Clippers and prompt a seismic shift in the Los Angeles sports landscape. “Heres my dream,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14, 2017. “Rebuild the forum from scratch. Lakers plus music. boom.” The Lakers now say that vision won’t be realized, and they are believed to be discussing an extension to their Staples Center lease that runs through the 2024-25 season. “MSG approached the Lakers about the possibility of returning to the Forum following the end of our Lease at Staples Center in 2025, but nothing came from the discussions,” the team said Wednesday in a statement.
After discussing former Lakers player, coach and executive Jerry West joining the Clippers front office, Buss savaged the potential arena. “They are all crazy,” she wrote. “This is a joke. Why would Adam let this happen?” “Adam” is presumably NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “He has no vote unfortunately,” Azoff responded. “It will be a long legal fight.” Buss used a nickname for Azoff when she wrote back. “We need to see you Nugget!!” she wrote. “Didn’t Ballz see what we did to my brother?? He will have nothing but Clippers basketball. Whoopee.”
The Clippers wanted to use 22 acres of vacant, city-owned land across West Century Boulevard from the NFL stadium development — parcels that had been leased to the Madison Square Garden Co., the New York-based sports and entertainment giant that owns the nearby Forum, for overflow parking. A year and a half later, the land is the subject of a bitter legal fight pitting Inglewood and Ballmer, the former Microsoft chief executive estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $42 billion, against MSG, whose holdings include the NBA’s New York Knicks, the NHL’s New York Rangers, esports teams and entertainment venues across the country, along with a stake in the Tribeca Film Festival. At the center of the case — and the negotiations that could further Inglewood’s metamorphosis into a sports mecca — is Butts.
Clippers management, which is eager to build a new arena for its team and move from its current hub at Staples Center, hailed the Legislative approvals even though it remains unclear whether the governor will sign the bill into law. "We are now one step closer to bringing the world's best basketball arena to a community that deserves the best," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a statement late Friday. "... with the passage of this bill, we are proudly setting a new standard for environmental responsibility. AB 987 puts into writing the promise we've made to Inglewood from the start: to be exceptional neighbors who care passionately about the Inglewood community and its citizens."

http://twitter.com/Steven_Ballmer/status/1035762582773219328
The project proposal calls for a privately funded complex that would include an 18,000-seat arena, practice facilities, a sports medicine clinic, team offices and retail space under the title Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center. Plans for the complex are continuing under a 36-month exclusive negotiating agreement the team's owners paid for with a $1.5 million nonrefundable deposit. The team's lease at Staples Center expires in 2024.
Arash Markazi: The new @ClippersArena would be located across the street from the new football stadium and Hollywood Park Casino. It would seat about 18,000 fans and cost about $1.2 billion. The arena, which would open in 2024, would also house the team’s practice facility and team offices. pic.twitter.com/AHBgPJpxjK
The latest lawsuit argues that that land should have been made available for affordable housing development before it was offered to the Clippers, as over 80 percent of Inglewood's population qualifies for some form of subsidized housing. "We don't know why they continue to push in the face of such strong residential opposition," said Dr. D'Artagnan Scorza, a local resident, school board member and member of Uplift Inglewood. "It doesn't make any sense to us except that they're facing a $17 million budget deficit as a result of financial mismanagement and they're probably trying to figure out a way to shore up the city's finances utilizing these projects."
An attorney representing Inglewood officials, including the city's mayor, called a lawsuit filed by Madison Square Garden a "sham" in court documents filed Monday. Madison Square Garden Co., owners of The Forum, sued Inglewood and Murphy's Bowl LLC — a Clippers-controlled company — over plans to explore a new arena in the city for the team. The lawsuit alleges fraud and breach of contract, claims attorney Skip Miller vigorously denied in the filing. "By its lawsuit, Madison Square Garden is trying to block the Clippers' move and construction of the arena, to impede competition and stifle the economic growth of Inglewood," the filing says.
Steve Ballmer: Today, we are expanding that investment by entering into an agreement to explore an opportunity to build a new arena for the Clippers in the City of Inglewood. I have said from day one that we need to plan for the future. This agreement helps us do that by expanding our options. The prospect of a new state-of-the-art NBA arena would allow us greater latitude to influence our game schedule, particularly as it relates to weekend games that are so important to our fans. We also want to offer our fans premium experiences in terms of technology, club spaces and other amenities; that’s easier to realize in a new arena.
Steve Ballmer: During the upcoming planning process, the Clippers and the City of Inglewood will work diligently together to evaluate this project in great detail. Regardless of where the Clippers take the court after 2024, I remain committed to helping the great city of Los Angeles and its citizens thrive. We look forward to sharing our progress as we continue along our journey to deliver championship results for our fans and the entire Los Angeles region.
The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with the LA Clippers on Thursday that could lead to the construction of an arena for the NBA team across the street from the future home of the NFL's Chargers and Rams.
The agreement calls for a three-year negotiating period, including a six-month extension, with a developer to build a state-of-the-art basketball arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats. It requires the Clippers to pay a nonrefundable $1.5 million deposit to cover costs associated with the planning. The proposed arena would be on a 20-acre parcel of land located across the street from the under-construction, $2.6 billion NFL stadium that is set to open in 2020. The Clippers' complex would include team offices, parking and a practice facility.
The Clippers could be on the move. And in the process, supplementing the newest Los Angeles entertainment and sports hub and the future home of the Rams and Chargers. According to multiple sources, the Clippers and the city of Inglewood are closing in on entering an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) on 22 acres of land between Prairie and Yukon Avenue south of Century Boulevard.
You don’t have to confirm or deny any of this, but I’ve heard rumors about you looking on the West Side for an arena, [or] you’re maybe gonna be involved with the [Stan] Kroenke thing in Inglewood. What is the ideal size of an NBA arena for you if you were building one from scratch? Did you study the Sacramento one? Have you looked at that? Because I think that’s the best one anyone’s built so far. Ballmer: There’s multiple ways to think about an arena.
Representatives of Steve Ballmer and Stan Kroenke, two of the richest owners in professional sports, have had multiple discussions about the Clippers joining the Rams and Chargers in the sports and entertainment district Kroenke is building in Inglewood.
Five people with knowledge of the conversations told The Times the arena could either be on the 298-acre site or an adjacent parcel. Either way, an arena would drive traffic to the planned mixed-use development and share parking with the $2.6-billion football stadium scheduled to open in 2019. The exploratory talks link two titans of sports and business with a sprawling project the NFL already considers transformational.
Inglewood is one of multiple sites the Clippers are exploring in a process that started more than a year ago. The Clippers aren’t settled on a course of action — staying at Staples Center or building a new arena — but the Inglewood discussions are part of their ongoing evaluation of potential options, according to the five people. “It’s too soon to say it would be L.A. Live lite, but if an arena were to bring 200 nights a year, that’s a tremendous amount of foot traffic that would benefit all the ancillary properties,” said a person familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified in order to speak frankly about the situation.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 69 more rumors
More HoopsHype Rumors
December 3, 2021 | 12:18 pm EST Update

December 3, 2021 | 11:35 am EST Update

Optimism among Bucks that Brook Lopez could return this season

There is optimism within the organization, though, that Lopez could return this season, per a team source. And while this is the 14th NBA season for the 33-year-old Lopez, Budenholzer told reporters the team does not believe this surgery has a chance to be career-threatening.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 25 more rumors