After having formally introduced new acquisitions Kawhi Leonard and Paul George earlier this week, the Clippers made another major announcement on Thursday evening, unveiling plans to build a new, 18,500-seat arena in Inglewood. The proposed arena would be completely privately financed.
The Clippers currently share a building with both the Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, but team owner Steve Ballmer has long expressed a desire to move out of the Staples Center and into a new arena. The club’s lease at Staples Center is scheduled to expire in 2024, and according to Thursday’s announcement, the goal is to complete the arena project in Inglewood by the fall of 2024.
The renderings and details released by the Clippers on Thursday look impressive — in addition to the court itself, the building would feature the club’s business and basketball offices, a training facility, and community and retail spaces. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, Ballmer visited 13 to 15 NBA arenas and facilities to get a sense of what he wants the Clips’ new home to feel like.
“I want it to be a noisy building,” Ballmer said, per Youngmisuk. “I really want that kind of energy; think Oracle [Arena] has been that way, Utah, Portland has got good energy. I think our Clipper fan base is a little more tenacious. They’re people decided they’re sticking with us, and now I think we will get new kinds of fans with Paul and Kawhi joining us, but I think it is a hardcore fan base. I think that we can get real noise, real energy in the building.”
The Clippers will have to overcome some legal hurdles before they can move forward on actually building their proposed arena. James Dolan and the Madison Square Garden Company own The Forum in Inglewood, and have been opposed to the idea of the Clips constructing a new building adjacent to the existing arena. MSG Co. has filed multiple lawsuits in an effort to try to protect its investment in The Forum.
Nonetheless, Ballmer is confident that those roadblocks can be overcome and that the Clippers will eventually have an arena to call their own in Inglewood.
“We won’t go into the details of any of the legal things, but we feel good that we will be able to build our building,” Ballmer said, according to Youngmisuk. “Litigation is never a good thing. Madison Square Garden is certainly going to oppose in every way they can. They will continue to oppose us in a variety of different ways, and yet we feel confident that we will be able to get our building built by 2024, which is when our lease ends at Staples.”
Although the proposed arena wasn’t really a factor in Leonard’s decision to join the Clippers in free agency, Ballmer confirmed that it was discussed during the recruiting process as a way to show the franchise’s commitment to building its own identity in Los Angeles.
“I don’t want to say it was a major milestone in the meeting, but we did share because it is another statement that we are really committed,” Ballmer said. “I don’t know how it’s humanly possible, but I still occasionally get a question about it: Will your team move to Seattle? We are building our billion-dollar-plus house here in Inglewood, California.”