Following years of planning and a high-dollar legal battle, the Los Angeles Clippers are scheduled to break ground Friday on the team’s long-anticipated arena in Inglewood, moving the franchise closer to vacating Staples Center.
Team owner Steve Ballmer is scheduled to be on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony, along with stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, head coach Tyronn Lue and Inglewood Mayor James Butts.
The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center is expected to include an 18,000-seat basketball arena, team practice facility and corporate offices for the Clippers. The city of Inglewood gave final approval to the project last year.
“Today is a new chapter for the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, as we move from the land use entitlement process and look toward construction,” Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker said following the City Council’s final approval.
“Every part of IBEC is being designed with purpose, with an unapologetic intensity that will define the experience together for players, musical talent and fans alike. This arena will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no replacement for live basketball and entertainment.”
According to the team, the project will create more than 7,000 full- and part-time construction jobs and up to 1,500 permanent full- and part-time jobs when the complex opens. Local-hire goals are in place to help fill 30% of the construction jobs and 35% of arena operation jobs with local residents, according to the Clippers.
The team estimates the complex will generate about $260 million in annual economic activity for Inglewood and approximately $100 million in tax revenue over the first 15 years of operation.
Plans for the arena hit a legal snag when Madison Square Garden Co., which owned the nearby Forum, sued the Clippers and Inglewood, claiming the project violated a non-competition clause of the venue’s operating agreements with the city. The dispute was resolved last year when Ballmer purchased the Forum from MSG for $400 million.
The Forum is expected to remain primarily as a music venue.