INGLEWOOD — Los Angeles Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer has announced an agreement to purchase the Forum from Madison Square Garden Co. for $400 million in cash, ending the legal battle between the two sides over the team’s proposed Clippers Arena.
The Clippers said the Forum will continue to operate as a music venue and all of MSG’s current Forum employees will be extended employment offers by the new owner.
The Forum will be purchased by the newly formed CAPSS LLC, led by Ballmer and Clippers Vice Chairman Dennis Wong. The transaction is expected to close by June 30.
“This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” said Ballmer, who is a billionaire and the former CEO of Microsoft. “We are committed to our investment in the city of Inglewood, which will be good for the community, the Clippers, and our fans.”
“We definitely want to work with Mr. Ballmer, sit with him and figure this out,” said Jelani Hendrix, a member of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition, a civic engagement organization that led the fight for rent control in Inglewood and has opposed the Clippers’ plan to build a new arena in the city.“[We will] work with him to make sure long-term residents are not displaced or harmed in any way.”
The new Clippers arena project will be privately financed, at a cost of more than $1 billion. The 18,000-seat basketball arena, team headquarters complex and community center would be located on West Century Boulevard between South Prairie Avenue and South Yukon Avenue.
Madison Square Gardens had sued the city of Inglewood and the Clippers over various issues, including the claim that MSG was tricked into giving up a lease for overflow parking on the city-owned land, the same land that is now being cleared and prepared for arena construction.
Additionally, residents have long voiced their opposition to another new stadium in Inglewood. Many are concerned about air pollution and traffic congestion that will come to their neighborhood when thousands of fans fill the arena.
By owning both venues, the Clippers said they will be able to improve traffic congestion around basketball games and concerts through coordinating programming between the Forum and the Clippers arena.
“We know traffic is something that many Inglewood residents worry about,” said Chris Meany, a principal of Wilson Meany, the developer overseeing the new basketball arena project. “While we have gone to great lengths to provide an unprecedented traffic-management plan for the new basketball arena, this acquisition provides a much greater ability to coordinate and avoid scheduling events at the same time at both venues.”
According to the L.A. Clippers’, the new arena will have a positive economic impact, by creating an estimated 7,500 high-paying construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs once the complex is open.
In addition to the economic benefits, the Clippers have proposed a $100 million package of community benefits.
Of that, $75 million would create a new, permanent affordable housing development loan fund in Inglewood.
The other $25 million would go toward helping first-time homebuyers, rent relief and youth and education initiatives.
Uplift Inglewood members said they will focus on making sure those community benefits are delivered as promised.
“The affordable housing portion is very important so we can help keep long-term residents in the city,” said Hendrix, before adding that thousands of Inglewood residents were displaced in the years before rent control was enacted in 2019.
The project is currently undergoing an environmental review by the city, which is analyzing the proposed arena’s impact on public health issues like air quality and traffic congestion.
Public hearings to approve the proposed Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center are expected to be held later this summer.
If approved, the Clippers hope to open their new arena by fall 2024, which would coincide with the expiration of the Clippers’ lease at Staples Center.
The Clippers have played their games at Staples Center, since it opened in 1999, but have always been the third tenant, following the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings when it comes to scheduling games.
Prior to Staples Center, the Clippers played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Exposition Park, where Banc of California Stadium now stands.
Ballmer has been planning a new facility since he bought the Clippers in 2014.
The Forum first opened at the end of 1967. It was built by Jack Kent Cooke, who owned the Lakers and the expansion hockey team the Los Angeles Kings at the time.
After Staples Center opened, the Forum continued being a site for rock concerts and other events. Faithful Central Baptist Church bought the facility in 2000 and used the Forum for its church services until 2009.
Madison Square Gardens bought the Forum in 2012 and announced plans for a $50 million renovation project.
It reopened in January 2014 with the Eagles performing six shows over 10 nights.