The Los Angeles Clippers could be joining the Rams and Chargers on the bandwagon to Inglewood.
The basketball team signed an exclusive negotiation agreement for 22 acres of land in the city upon which the team would like to build an arena, as David Nusbaum reports on page 4.
It’s been a badly kept secret that owner Steve Ballmer has been looking to leave the Staples Center once the Clippers’ lease expires in 2024. A move to Seattle or another city is still a possibility, but there are reasons why moving to Inglewood makes sense for the Clippers.
For starters, the team would be the main attraction at a new facility rather than the third wheel at Staples, which is part of the portfolio of AEG, the company that owns the Kings outright and holds a minority stake in the Lakers – both tenants of the facility.
Would moving into a new arena also make plain financial sense for the Clippers? And would a change of scenery really move the team out of the Lakers’ shadow?
Ballmer has promised to pay for the arena out of his own pocket, a number that could hit $1 billion, including the cost of land. For comparison, that’s how much Brooklyn’s Barclays Center cost to build.
Then there’s the issue of selling tickets. The team, which has been winning far more games than the Lakers in recent years, still struggles to sell out Staples despite charging cheaper prices than their intrabuilding rivals.
Stan Kroenke’s Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment Complex will be up and running by then, but that’s no guarantee fans would be willing to head south to Inglewood to watch the Clippers when going downtown to L.A. Live has already proved challenging.
The obvious upside to owning your own building is being able to rent it out. But Forum owner Madison Square Garden Co. – which is none too pleased about the Clippers’ potential move – aren’t going to roll over in the face of new competition from Ballmer on concerts and other events.
Yet, Angelenos are always looking for the hot new thing, and that could be Inglewood in 2024. Perhaps Ballmer would be best served by coming up with a new name and identity, and putting the team’s past failings firmly in the rearview mirror.
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