Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball franchise, is reportedly in talks to purchase The Forum, a multi-purpose venue in Inglewood near where the team plans on building a new arena.
The Clippers, which currently play at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, have long held plans to build a new 18,000-seat arena in Inglewood.
The team has faced a number of obstacles in its quest to build the arena, with Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), owner of The Forum, having long opposed the project. The Forum is located just a mile away from where the Clippers intend on building their new arena and MSG has filed a number of lawsuits over the plans.
MSG has alleged that the city violated an agreement not to promote competition for The Forum when it teamed up with the Clippers on the arena project.
MSG’s latest lawsuit was filed in January against California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee. The suit claims that Assembly Bill 987, which was passed in 2018 to protect the arena project from extended legal action relating to environmental issues, violates state constitution.
Chris Meany, the lead developer of the Clippers project, dismissed the lawsuit as “the latest desperate attempt in an all-out legal onslaught” to prevent the plans from progressing.
Ballmer’s potential purchase of The Forum would provide a clearer path for the Clippers to build their new arena and ESPN has reported that he is in “advanced negotiations” over a deal.
The Clippers have not confirmed nor denied the report but said in a statement to ESPN: “The Clippers continue to pursue plans to build a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex in Inglewood and are currently working with the city to successfully complete the comprehensive Environmental Impact Report.
“We are examining every possible way to resolve our differences with Madison Square Garden Co. regarding our new arena.”
ESPN, citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that the sale of The Forum, which has a capacity of 17,500, has been viewed as the best option to settle the ongoing dispute between MSG and the Clippers.
MSG also owns the Madison Square Garden arena in New York, as well as the New York Knicks NBA team and the New York Rangers NHL ice hockey franchise.
The Clippers’ new arena would also be close to the state-of-the-art SoFi Stadium currently being built in Inglewood, which will serve as the home of the Rams and Chargers NFL teams. The Clippers hope to begin work on the new arena by July next year.
The Clippers’ current lease to play at Staples Center expires in 2024. The team shares the arena with fellow NBA franchise the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings NHL outfit, as well as Women’s NBA team the Los Angeles Sparks.