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Inglewood gives tentative approval to Clippers’ arena

INGLEWOOD — The Los Angeles Clippers are one step closer to building their own state-of-the-art 18,500-seat arena in Inglewood.

The Inglewood City Council introduced an ordinance July 21 to approve a development agreement that would allow Murphy’s Bowl LLC, doing business as the Clippers, to build the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center.

“We’re excited for the L.A. Clippers to have a home of their own,” said the team’s owner, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer via a pre-recorded video message. “We want to simply make it the greatest place in the world for basketball.”

If given final approval, the 28-acre arena would be located at the southeast corner of Prairie Avenue and West Century Boulevard. The proposed site is directly south of Hollywood Park’s NFL SoFi Stadium. It is also less than a mile from the Forum, which is also owned by Ballmer. The Forum was purchased from Madison Square Garden for $400 million in May.

The July 21 hearing also was held to update zoning and change city codes to allow for major construction in that area and certify the project’s environmental impact report, which studied and identified dozens of traffic and noise impacts.

City leaders have been planning the project since 2017. They believe the arena will play a large role in the economic redevelopment of the city.

The Clippers said they expect the new arena project to generate more than $100 million in new tax revenues that Inglewood could use to improve city services.

However, concerned residents believe the arena is another step towards the continued gentrification of Inglewood. Residents are equally concerned about the increase in traffic and air pollution the new arena would bring to their neighborhood.

Another community concern is the rising cost of rent in Inglewood. Some residents thought the city owned property should have been used to help alleviate the lack of affordable housing and low-income housing. However, the team contends the arena project is the best use of the land.

Team officials said the site is not suitable for any type of housing developments because it is located directly under the LAX flight path and is affected by aircraft noise. City leaders add that much of the land has been vacant for decades.

The Clippers said their new billion-dollar arena, which is being privately financed, will be about more than basketball. The team said it is working hard to be good neighbors.

Supporters are excited about the Clippers have committed to a $100 million community benefits package, including $75 million for an affordable housing loan fund. $25 million will go towards after-school programs, services for senior citizens, the Inglewood Public Library and additional housing initiatives.

The new arena would complete Inglewood Mayor James Butts’ vision for Inglewood as a sports and entertainment destination, rivaling any city in North America. The Forum, SoFi Stadium and the Clippers Arena would make three sports and entertainment venues within one mile. 

The team has a goal of employing 30% minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses during construction. Overall, the project is expected to bring 7,000 union construction jobs and up to 1,500 permanent jobs. City and team officials are hoping to make 35% of the permanent jobs for Inglewood area residents.

Along with the Clippers arena, the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center would house the team’s practice facility, team offices, a hotel, a medical facility, retail stores, restaurants and 4,100 parking spaces.

“We look forward to breaking ground on the project,” Ballmer said.

The Clippers have previously said they want to open the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center by fall 2024. That’s when the team’s lease ends at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.