NBA Rumor: Clippers Arena

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Ballmer has been deeply involved in the planning and design for the venue, which will have state-of-the-art technology features and a host of elements that will make it purpose built for basketball and concert performances. No other sports will play in Intuit Arena, as it will be known thanks to a naming-rights deal with the software company that was announced last month. “For basketball, that means creating a sense of community,” Steve Ballmer says. “The more people feel like they are brought together, that makes for a better experience. I wanted to make sure it was a basketball mecca.”

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Given Ballmer’s technology background, sports observers have been watching to see if the Clippers try to find innovative approaches to distributing games or even in how the games are produced. Ballmer wouldn’t show much of his hand, but said that there is no question that the dealmaking landscape for pro sports teams and leagues is changing fast. “There are options,” Ballmer said. “Obviously if we can work the right deal with Bally, they’ve been a great partner for a long period of time. In business, you’ve got to have options. We have options.”

By resolving those suits, the Clippers hope to begin construction on their new complex by mid-2021. The team’s lease at Staples Center, where they have played since 1999, ends in 2024. Inglewood’s City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement to retain a company to appraise 65 city-controlled parcels and 10 privately-owned parcels that could be used for the arena and related development. Murphy’s Bowl LLC, the Clippers-controlled company behind the project, will pay for the appraisal and eventually acquire the land.

The billion-dollar arena complex the Clippers want to build in Inglewood took another step forward Friday with the release of the draft environmental report for the project. The report found that the privately financed Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center might create a “large number of significant and unavoidable transportation impacts,” but would add almost 1,000 full-time non-construction jobs in the city, won’t contribute to gentrification or impact the viability of competing arenas in the region.

Steve Ballmer: “We have some folks pushing back on us, primarily Madison Square Garden and the Knicks, if you will. They own The Forum, which is a concert venue, and they don’t want to see a new concert venue, which any new basketball arena would be. So we’re getting some pushback. But 2024 is our target. And we’ve given ourselves some time to get ready. And 2024 comes faster than you think, so we’re pushing along down the path. We’re excited. We’ve seen some preliminary exterior designs … can’t show them to you yet. But the community will see them not too long from now.”

Ballmer lives in Seattle, but discovered his love for the game as an 11-year-old in suburban Detroit, watching the Pistons and witnessing the appreciation the hometown team and its stars were afforded from local fans. “For me growing up in Detroit, it’s the Pistons. It’s always the Pistons,” Ballmer said. “But in L.A., you have to think about it differently. Not only do we play in the same building, we don’t have the championship pedigree. So you know what, we need our own house. We’re going to define our own identity, in our own house.”

Billionaire Clippers owner Steve Ballmer wants to transform the four blocks into a privately funded home for his franchise, a state-of-the-art competition venue, team offices, practice facility, sports medicine clinic and more. But almost a year and a half after the Clippers and Inglewood signed an exclusive negotiating agreement to explore the project, the land remains at the center of a legal brawl setting Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the nearby Forum, against the franchise Ballmer bought for $2 billion and the city he would like his team to call home.

The fight escalated Tuesday when Murphy’s Bowl LLC, the Clippers-controlled company behind the arena, countersued MSG in L.A. County Superior Court. “The proposed Los Angeles Clippers Arena … is the latest in this series of projects that will reshape Inglewood and benefit its residents for decades,” the countersuit said. “MSG Forum LLC … fearing the competition it would face from a new arena in Inglewood, seeks to stop the Clippers Arena in its tracks.” The filing accused MSG of using the lawsuits to force the Clippers to “abandon their plan to move to Inglewood.” Murphy’s Bowl wants the court to declare its 36-month exclusive negotiating agreement with Inglewood to be valid and enforceable.
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October 17, 2021 | 7:48 pm EDT Update