LOS ANGELES – The path to a new home for the Los Angeles Clippers is beginning to gain traction, as owner Steve Ballmer is negotiating with the Madison Square Garden Company to purchase The Forum, the one-time home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
If the sides do manage to make a deal, this will make the Clippers’ goal of building their own arena in Inglewood a lot easier.
In a statement that the Clippers gave to ESPN, the team stated that The Forum would not be the team’s new home.
“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.”
MSG, Ballmer, and the city of Inglewood have been in a longstanding legal standoff over Ballmer’s parcel of land, which sits a mile from The Forum. MSG alleges that the city has violated its agreement with them to not promote competition to The Forum by convincing them to sede land for a technology park, which was then sold to Ballmer in what MSG says was 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.
In January, MSG filed a second lawsuit – but against California governor Gavin Newsom and California’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee – over legislation that accelerates the approval of development projects. At the time of the lawsuit, Chris Meany, the lead developer of the Clippers, accused MSG of trying to slow down development of the new arena.
“Today’s filing of yet another meritless lawsuit by the Madison Square Garden Co. is the latest desperate attempt in an all-out legal onslaught to slow the development of the proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood,” Meany said in a statement.
Currently, there are three active lawsuits, including two from community groups: one of them being IRATE (Inglewood Residents Against Takings and Evictions) – who are partially bankrolled by MSG. The recurring amount of lawsuits, which have cost both sides tens of millions in litigation, convinced both sides to negotiate. The negotiations have led to the discussion of selling The Forum, which would be the path of least resistance for all parties involved.
The Forum will continue to operate until a new arena is constructed, and potentially beyond then. The Clippers are currently in the last years of a 10-year extension they signed with the Staples Center, which will expire in June 2024. They have been co-tenants of the Staples Center, which is owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) since 1999, but receive a smaller share of proceeds from suites and club seats than the Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and a lesser say in scheduling.