Los Angeles

Inglewood Chases Its Hoop Dreams, Moves Ahead With Proposal to Build New Clippers Arena

The city scheduled a public hearing for Thursday morning to review an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the Clippers for a new arena

The city that already has a new NFL stadium under construction is pursuing a proposal that could bring the NBA back to Inglewood.

The city of Inglewood approved an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) Thursday with the Los Angeles Clippers. The agreement means the NBA franchise and Inglewood can begin the process of developing a new basketball arena in Inglewood, about 10 miles southwest of the team's current home at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Approval of the agreement Thursday does not necessarily mean the Clippers are leaving Staples Center. The Clippers and the Staples Center's owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), are renegotiating their own agreement, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing two people familiar with the situation.

The Clippers' lease at Staples Center runs through 2024. The document submitted to the city council for review does not indicate when a new arena might open. 

The arena would be on 20 acres of land south of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue. Several businesses currently occupy the site, near the location of a new NFL stadium that will open in time for the 2020 season and serve as the home for both the Rams and the Chargers.

A 70,000-seat Inglewood NFL stadium is expected to be the centerpiece of an entertainment and commercial center spanning roughly 300 acres at the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack. The district is envisioned to include a roughly 6,000-seat arena, more than 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 residential units and possibly a 300-room hotel, along with 25 acres of parks and open space.

The NFL stadium's opening was pushed back by a year due to winter's heavy downpours, which led to construction delays.

Inglewood was home to the Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL's LA Kings from the late 1960s to 1999, when the teams moved to Staples Center. It also hosted the LA Sparks until 2001, when the WNBA franchise also made a move to downtown Los Angeles.

The Clippers moved to Staples Center from the LA Memorial Sports Arena in Exposition Park. Owner Steve Ballmer, who bought the Clippers in 2014, has expressed that he'd like a new arena for the team. 

The agreement Thursday gives the Clippers about five months to prepare initial renderings of the arena, which woulud have 18,000 to 20,000 seats.

The proposed developer listed in the agreement is Brandt Vaughan of Murphy's Bowl Inc. Brandt Vaughan is a former Microsoft executive who now serves as CFO of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer's Bellevue, Washington-based Ballmer Group. Also listed as a contact for the company is Dennis Wong, Ballmer's former college roommate and a Clippers co-owner.

The unanimous vote of approval was met with swift reaction from representatives of the Forum in Inglewood. The statement read, "No one believes in Inglewood more than we do. We invested in the City when others were not. Over the past several years, we turned the Forum into the most successful concert venue in the West, and the #2 ranked facility of its kind in the country. Many consider our work to revitalize the Forum to be the catalyst for Inglewood’s recent business success.

"Now, it appears the city of Inglewood has been doing a lot of backroom dealing. There may be a path forward, but not without a real public process that is done in the full light of day with the participation of Inglewood’s residents and many other stakeholders."

A reponse from the city of Inglewood was not immediately available.

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