The Clippers are moving up in the world and soon enough, they may be moving out of the Staples Center in downtown L.A.
In the same week that both star-signings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were announced, owner Steve Ballmer unveiled on late Thursday renderings for the Clippers new arena in Inglewood. He aims for the Clippers new home “to be beautiful. But … to be about basketball.”
Ballmer’s envisioned 18,500 seat arena will call Inglewood home after the Clippers have spent the last 20 years in the Staples Center, sharing it with the Lakers, the Sparks of the WNBA, and the L.A. Kings of the NHL. Construction on the new arena in Inglewood would begin in 2021 with 2024 as the projected opening date. The Clippers lease with the Staples Center ends after the 2023-24 NBA season.
“My goal is simple. I want the Clippers to have the best home in all of sports,” Ballmer said in a team statement. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that re-sets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.”
In an interview with the L.A. Times, Ballmer also said that he wants the team’s potential new home in Inglewood to be “a way for us to define our own identity. … People, I think, will say, we play in the Lakers’ building. We’d like to play in the Clippers’ building. That’s what we’re working on.”
The 26-acre complex would host the Clippers’ entire operation. Besides the arena itself, it will house the team’s headquarters and the team’s practice facility. It will sit across the street from the upcoming Rams’ and Chargers’ new football stadium set to open next year, creating a sports complex in Inglewood.
He wants the Clippers’ new home to be loud – maybe louder than the recently vacated Oracle Arena in Oakland, nicknamed “Roaracle.” He wants it to feature its own version of a college student section behind one of the nets– a sort of NBA super-fan zone for diehard Clippers supporters.
The biggest selling point coming from Ballmer and the Clippers’ state of the art billion-dollar home is that it will be privately funded by Ballmer. The new arena was also a selling point used to lure Leonard during his free agency meeting with Ballmer.
Ballmer’s dream of a new stadium has one big opponent, however. Madison Square Garden Co., whose CEO is Knicks owner James Dolan, is locked in a legal battle with Ballmer over a small part of the land nearby. MSG Co. owns The Forum, which is less than a mile away from the proposed stadium site.
The L.A. Times also reported in March that a close friend of Dolan’s, a music business mogul in L.A., has pitched the idea of getting the Lakers to move back to the Forum in an effort to keep the Clippers from getting their new stadium in Inglewood. The Lakers played at The Forum from 1967-1999 before moving to the Staples Center.
There’s also an environmental review of the land pending, but regardless of the obstacles, Ballmer insists that construction will begin and go as scheduled.