Clippers outline major community benefits package to boost arena project

NBA basketball franchise the Los Angeles Clippers has sought to enhance its bid to develop a new arena in Inglewood by stating it will commit $100m (£81.1m/€90.9m) in benefits for the city.

The Los Angeles Times newspaper said the benefits were presented yesterday (Tuesday) at a meeting of Inglewood’s council by city manager Artie Fields. They would include up to $75m in low-interest loans for the acquisition, preservation, or development of affordable and mixed-income housing in Inglewood, along with more than $12m for youth and education programs, and up to $6m towards renovating the public library and financial assistance for renters and first-time homeowners in the city.

In July, the Clippers revealed the first images of the planned new arena and the team has said its “community benefit plan” would be the largest of its type for a stadium or entertainment venue developed in the state of California.

Gillian Zucker, Clippers president of business operations, said the benefits package was drawn up after talks with Inglewood residents and city officials. She said the intent is “making sure that there’s a positive benefit of this building”. Zucker added: “Even if you have no interest in basketball, and can’t name our coach or a player and will never come to our game, that you’re still glad the Clippers are in Inglewood.”

The Clippers have played at Staples Center, owned and operated by AEG, since 1999. The team’s owner, Steve Ballmer, is planning to move the Clippers to a privately financed development anchored by an 18,500-seat arena, in time for the completion of its lease deal at Staples Center in 2024.

The proposed complex is across the street from the stadium that will be the home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers beginning in 2020. It is also less than a mile from the Forum, whose owner, Madison Square Garden Co., is engaged in a bitter legal fight with Ballmer over land close to the proposed arena.

Ballmer is said to be confident construction on the new arena will begin by the middle of 2021.

Image: LA Clippers