RICHMOND- Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is known for aggressive risk-taking.
The former Microsoft CEO announced through the LA Times that he is paying $400 million in cash to buy the Forum arena from the Madison Square Garden Company.
The deal allows Ballmer to move forward with plans to build a new arena for the NBA franchise after years of constant legal battles with the company and it’s owner James Dolan. Yes, the same Knicks owner.
Back in 2014, Ballmer paid $2 million to purchase the Clippers from the previous ownership headlined by a disgraced and now racist individual in Donald Sterling.
Currently ranked No. 9 on Forbes’ richest-person list with a net worth of $51.4 billion, Ballmer’s commitment to the growth of the Clippers should be commended.
“This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said to the New York Post. “We are committed to our investment in the City of Inglewood, which will be good for the community, the Clippers and our fans.”
The Clippers have played at Staples Center since 1999, along with the Lakers and Kings, but became unhappy with their status as the building’s third tenant. Hence, the need for a new building.
However, the path to that destination was nothing like smooth sailing. MSG spearheaded three different lawsuits to block the arena project in addition to accusing mayor James T. Butts of persuading the company to give up land for a supposed technology park which later became part of the Clippers’ arena proposal.
Dolan was behind many of the lawsuits as he felt “uncomfortable” with the idea of the Clippers having their own arena when it was a known fact that his in-state rival Nets have their own arena as well.
In December 2018, the Clippers filed a countersuit against The Madison Square Garden Company alleging that the company was “trying to prevent competition”.
In March 2019, the issue took another turn after it was revealed that Irving Azoff, Chairman of Full Stop Management, attempted to lure the Los Angeles Lakers back to The Forum after their lease at the Staples Center was up.
That proposal was seen as a way of preventing the Clippers from building their own arena in Inglewood while ensuring that MSGC got an unfair advantage over rival AEG.
Now, there are no issues left to be handled as ownership now resides under Ballmer and the Clippers organization.
Not only do Clippers have flexibility with their own arena, but they now have the ability to coordinate events among both two venues.
The Clippers stated that building new arena will create an estimated 7,500 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs once the complex opens. The Clippers also proposed a $100 million package in community benefits.
In this time and economy when getting a job is so beneficial, there are going to be many happy clients in Los Angeles and Inglewood once construction begins and jobs are created.
The Clippers’ lease at Staples Center ends in 2024. The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center will serve as the new home for the LA Clippers once built.
The plan calls for their proposed arena to be opened in time for the 2024-25 NBA season.