An environmental review process into a proposed new arena for the Los Angeles Clippers has begun as the NBA basketball team seeks to press ahead with plans for a new multi-purpose complex.

Last summer, the Clippers entered into a three-year negotiating agreement with the City of Inglewood that will provide the team with a window to explore building a new arena.

More details of the planned arena complex emerged in February and the project progressed further last week as locals were invited to discuss the areas they feel should be explored during the environmental review process.

“The environmental review process has begun,” project manager Chris Meany, of Wilson Meany, told TheStadiumBusiness.com. “The City of Inglewood sent out the Notice of Preparation and a scoping meeting on the project was held on March 12. This meeting gave residents the opportunity to discuss the issues they want studied in the environmental impact report, which should be completed in about 18 months.

“We are at the very beginning of the environmental review process. We expect the environmental impact report to be completed sometime next year.”

Inglewood is already set for one major new venue in the coming years, with work on a 70,000-seat NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers having begun back in November 2016.

It is hoped the NFL stadium will open in 2020 and, should the Clippers’ plans come to fruition, Inglewood could be home to two major-league facilities before long.

Meany said a range of sites were considered before Inglewood was decided upon, and added that the arena would form part of a wider-ranging complex.

“The Clippers explored viable sites throughout the Los Angeles region and are excited to partner with the City of Inglewood to further explore this location,” Meany said.  

“The campus will include the team’s corporate headquarters, a training facility and a sports medicine clinic. There will likely be a team store, restaurant and an outdoor plaza with landscaped areas, outdoor basketball courts, and outdoor community gathering space.”

The Clippers currently play at Staples Center, a complex the team shares with NBA rival the Lakers and NHL ice hockey franchise the Kings. The Clippers’ Staples Center lease expires in 2024 and Meany said the new plans are “100% about the team and the fans having their own arena”.

Earlier this month, a potential obstacle to the Clippers’ plans emerged as James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks NBA team, filed a lawsuit over the move. MSG Forum, a unit of Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Company, owns the Forum, the previous home of the LA Lakers that is located half-a-mile down the road to the site of the Clippers’ mooted new arena.

According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit accuses the City of Inglewood of not being up front in its reasons for convincing MSG Forum to give up a long-term lease and purchase option on 15 acres of parking space near the Forum.

MSG said it invested $100m in the Forum to transform it into a live music venue, and the Clippers’ arena would likely compete with the venue by hosting other non-sporting events.

On the lawsuit, Meany said: “MSG threatened to sue for months. We believe the lawsuit does not include any new issues that weren’t previously dismissed by the City of Inglewood. We are focused on our entitlement process and continuing our massive outreach campaign to educate residents on the project and listen to their concerns and their hopes for the development.”

Image: Michael Tipton