By John W. Davis, Contributing Writer
INGLEWOOD — The Los Angeles Clippers could be one vote away from receiving final approval to build a new arena here.
The Inglewood City Council has set a special public hearing for 2 p.m. Sept. 8 to consider approving a disposition and development agreement between the Murphy’s Bowl LLC and the city of Inglewood, which would give the team final approval to build the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center. Murphy’s Bowl LLC, represents the Clippers and the team’s billionaire owner, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The proposed project site is located near the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Century Boulevard. It is approximately 28 acres in size. City leaders believe the project will help transform Inglewood, by turning vacant and underdeveloped land into a sports and entertainment center.
Community activists contended the land should have been used for much-needed housing in Inglewood. However, city leaders said the site is incompatible with housing because of the LAX flight path overhead.
The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center project would be adjacent to SoFi Stadium and less than a mile from the Forum, which is also now owned by Ballmer. The Forum was purchased earlier this year for $400 million from Madison Square Garden company. MSG sued the Clippers over the proposed arena but that suit was dropped after the sale of the arena.
The final environmental impact report, which studied the project impact via traffic, noise and air pollution, was certified by the City Council July 21. City leaders are expected to provide a more detailed staff report at the public hearing Sept. 8.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have announced they are partnering with CAA Sports to sell the naming rights to the new arena. The privately financed project will include a state-of-the-art 18,000-seat facility.
The Clippers also will provide the city with a $100 million community benefits package, which is the largest ever connected to a sports venue. Of that, $75 million will be used for an affordable housing loan fund and $25 million will go towards after-school programs, services for senior citizens, the Inglewood public library and additional housing initiatives.
According to the Clippers, the project is expected to break ground next summer.
However, before construction begins, the Clippers are hoping to sell the naming rights to the new arena.
“We have set an ambitious goal to provide disproportionate value to a naming rights partner by having them in-place before a shovel hits the ground in Inglewood,” said Gillian Zucker, Clippers president of business operations. “This aggressive timing will provide a unique opportunity to incorporate our partner’s brand into the design of the construction and deliver their own personal touch to this amazing facility.”
The Clippers want the arena to open for the start of the 2024-25 NBA season. The team’s lease at Staples Center ends in 2024.