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Clippers owner completes deal for The Forum

Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball team, has completed his purchase of The Forum, a multi-purpose arena in Inglewood, from Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

The $400m (£321m/€368m) deal was first announced in March and the Clippers confirmed the completion of the acquisition yesterday (Monday). The newly-created Forum Entertainment LLC will operate The Forum with the existing leadership team of Geni Lincoln and Mike Fallon to remain in place, reporting to the Clippers’ president of business operations, Gillian Zucker.

The acquisition boosts the Clippers’ plans to deliver a new arena near The Forum and removes the obstacle of legal action from MSG Entertainment. Ballmer and Clippers vice-chairman Dennis Wong have purchased the arena through the newly-formed CAPSS LLC.

It is expected that all of The Forum’s California-based staff will remain employees of Forum Entertainment LLC.

Zucker said: “We are excited to welcome The Forum to our family. The talented team at The Forum has created a world-class live entertainment venue, and we are committed to building upon that reputation.

“Having The Forum just a short distance from the LA Clippers’ new arena will give us the opportunity to provide the City of Inglewood with a number of benefits, including a collaborative approach to managing traffic and community activities.”

The Clippers, which have played at Staples Center since 1999, plan on building a new $1.2bn privately financed development which will be anchored by an 18,500-seat arena. The proposed complex is across the street from SoFi Stadium, which will open this summer and serve as the home of the Rams and Chargers NFL American football teams.

The Clippers’ plans for a new arena had been opposed by Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which last month split its sports and entertainment assets into two separate entities: MSG Entertainment and MSG Sports.

The Forum is located less than two miles from the proposed site for the Clippers’ new arena. MSG had been part of three lawsuits to block the arena project. ESPN, citing league sources, reported that the resolution of outstanding litigation was a condition of the sale of The Forum to Ballmer.

Public hearings on the Clippers’ new arena plans are slated to begin this summer. In a statement, the Clippers said having the new arena and The Forum under the same ownership would allow for coordinated programming between the two venues and improve traffic congestion around basketball games and concerts.

The Forum has a capacity of 17,500 and opened in 1967, serving as the home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings until they left for Staples Center in 1999. MSG acquired The Forum in 2012 and spent a reported $100m on revamping the arena, which has been repurposed as a venue for major concerts and combat sports events.

The Forum hosted nearly 100 events in 2019 and the Clippers have pledged that Forum Entertainment LLC will continue to offer “world-class entertainment and service” to guests.

Image: Ritapepaj