Clippers move forward with Inglewood arena project

NBA basketball team the Los Angeles Clippers have taken another step towards the development of a new arena after Inglewood City Council voted unanimously to approve the environmental impact report for the project.

The report took two years to complete and was issued seven months ago. The Los Angeles Times newspaper reported that the Council found that the 28-acre Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Complex would bring traffic and jobs to the planned site, while ruling it would not contribute to gentrification of its surrounding area.

Located just south of Hollywood Park, home of the new SoFi Stadium, the Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Complex is a public/private partnership between Murphy’s Bowl LLC, a Clippers-controlled company, and the City of Inglewood.

The project will consist of an arena designed to host the Clippers with up to 18,500 seats for NBA games and non-sporting events. The structure will include an 85,000 square foot team practice and athletic training facility, 71,000 square feet of Clippers team office space, and a sports medicine clinic.

Development on the site will also include an outdoor plaza with 80,000 square feet of circulation and gathering space and 48,000 square feet of retail/restaurant uses on two levels. The proximity of the complex to SoFi Stadium, the new home of NFL teams the Rams and Chargers, had led to concerns over traffic.

The Times said the environmental report projected that the arena would host 62 major events annually and would lead to a “large number of significant and unavoidable transportation impacts”. It called for developers to address this issue by funding improvements to nearby streets and freeway offramps and shuttles to nearby Metro stations, among other measures.

The report also estimated that the project would create 1,000 full-time non-construction jobs in Inglewood. A Clippers spokesperson told the Pasadena Star-News that the report represented “the most extensive environmental study ever completed by the city.”

The arena “will be one of the most environmentally friendly sports venues in California,” said Chris Meany, co-founder and managing partner of Wilson Meany, which is leading the development.

The approval of the environment report comes after another major hurdle was cleared in May. Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers, completed his purchase of The Forum, a multi-purpose arena in Inglewood, from Madison Square Garden Entertainment. As part of this deal, MSG agreed to end its long-running legal battle against the proposed Clippers arena.

Murphy’s Bowl hopes to begin construction on the project by mid-2021, with the arena projected to open in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. The Clippers’ lease at Staples Center, its current home, is due to expire in 2024.

Image: LA Clippers