Clippers have green Aspiration with first founding partner for Intuit Dome

NBA basketball franchise the Los Angeles Clippers has secured its second major sponsorship deal for its new home in the space of a month, with ‘green’ financial services company Aspiration set to aid its goal of developing the first climate positive arena.

Aspiration has signed on as the first founding partner of the Intuit Dome under a multi-year deal. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but CNBC reported it is worth more than $300m (£218.7m/€256.3m).

Aspiration last month entered into a $2.3bn merger agreement with InterPrivate III Financial Partners, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which, upon closing, will result in Aspiration becoming a listed company.

The Clippers will engage Aspiration’s Sustainable Impact Services, which offers software and services that enable companies to integrate the fight against climate change into their daily customer experience.

The Clippers and Aspiration are also introducing the first ‘Planet Protection Fund,’ which will provide fans with the opportunity to offset their own carbon impact whenever they purchase a ticket to a game. The two organisations will also develop sustainability programming to benefit Southern California businesses, entrepreneurs and students.

“There is a responsibility associated with building the best arena in the world,” said Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer. “Aspiration becoming our first founding partner supports the stake we are planting in the ground to make Intuit Dome the most sustainable arena in the world.”

Joe Sanberg, co-founder of Aspiration, added: “Today (Monday), the Clippers are raising the bar for every major sports franchise in the world.

“By committing to a sustainable future, this team is proving that its massive cultural influence can extend to harnessing meaningful and ongoing action against the climate crisis by embedding Aspiration’s sustainability services throughout the fan experience.

“As a Clippers fan, I am proud to be partnering with them to define a new era of climate action in major league sports — and I hope that the rest of the NBA follows their example.”

The Clippers are working toward initiatives that will earn Intuit Dome a LEED Platinum certification, the highest classification available. Intuit Dome will operate 100% carbon-free from day one, and be the only sports arena in the world built with 100% embodied carbon concrete.

Intuit Dome will be naturally ventilated, fully electric through batteries and solar power with enough on-site energy storage to power a basketball game or concert, and have no net new greenhouse gas emissions. It will feature a comprehensive waste reduction program to eradicate landfill waste onsite and extensive programs to improve regional air quality.

Intuit Dome has committed to the annual monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions and transportation impacts, a first for a large-scale venue, which will ensure sustainability goals and promises are met, and also provide the data to help drive broader community transformation to a low carbon future.

“Our relationship with Aspiration is aspirational; how do we do more?” said Gillian Zucker, LA Clippers president of business operations. “It’s not enough anymore to just do our part as a company. We need to use our platform to create a movement around the importance of protecting our planet.”  

As Intuit Dome’s first founding partner and a team partner of the Clippers, Aspiration will receive physical and digital signage elements and activations that promote sustainability, hospitality elements and will become the presenting partner of the Clipper Nation MVP Program, which offers exclusive benefits to season ticket holders.

Aspiration will also engage with the Clippers’ Mentorship Assist Zone program, which provides underserved Southern California youth with education and exposure to career opportunities.

The Aspiration deal comes just days after the Clippers broke ground on the arena project, signing financial software company Intuit as the naming rights sponsor.

Intuit, which makes TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma and Mint, agreed a 23-year strategic partnership with the Clippers, which is reportedly worth over $500m. The 18,000-seat Intuit Dome is scheduled to open in Inglewood, California for the 2024-25 NBA season.

Intuit Dome has been designed to create an intimate and intense fan experience through features such as ‘The Wall,’ which is comprised of 51 uninterrupted rows of seats that include a dedicated supporters’ section; a two-sided halo scoreboard encircling the bowl with an acre of LED lighting; and an 80,000 square foot outdoor plaza, surrounding a full-size outdoor court.

Technological advancements within the $1.8bn Intuit Dome will allow for frictionless concession stands, enabling fans to spend more time in their seats.

The Clippers had targeted this summer to begin work on what was then known as the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center (IBEC) after receiving final approval for the project in September 2020, with the NBA team opening their waitlist for season tickets and other selected arena experiences.

Inglewood City Council granted final approval for the campus that will include an 18,000-seat basketball arena, team practice facility and corporate offices for the Clippers. The City Council’s unanimous approval of the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) provided the terms for Murphy’s Bowl, the entity developing IBEC, to purchase the publicly-owned property within the arena site for $66.25m.

The Clippers have shared Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers and NHL ice hockey team Los Angeles Kings since it opened in 1999, but have long been seeking a home of their own. When the Clippers’ new home opens, four arenas will be located within a one mile radius, with SoFi Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, including a 6,000-seat performance venue.

Image: LA Clippers