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Clippers Countersue MSG Amidst Dispute Over Proposed Inglewood Arena

Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers-controlled company recently filed a countersuit against Madison Square Garden Co., adding to an already intense legal battle over the team’s proposed Inglewood arena.

In the summer of 2017, the City of Inglewood and Clippers-controlled company Murphy’s Bowl, LLC entered into an exclusive 36-month negotiation period for the potential construction of a new arena and surrounding development on a city-owned site. MSG, owner of the nearby The Forum, has been critical of the discussions between the city and the team, and earlier this year sued the city and the Clippers-controlled company. It contended that Inglewood mayor James Butts knowingly deceived it into surrendering a lease on vacant city-owned land that is being considered for the arena project, while claiming that the proposal involving the Clippers violates MSG’s development agreement with the city.

The latest turn in the dispute came last Tuesday, when Murphy’s Bowl filed a countersuit against MSG in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The entity is contending that MSG is using legal challenges to force the team to scrap plans for an Inglewood move, and has asked the court to declare its negotiating period with the city valid. More from the Los Angeles Times:

“The proposed Los Angeles Clippers Arena … is the latest in this series of projects that will reshape Inglewood and benefit its residents for decades,” the countersuit said. “MSG Forum LLC … fearing the competition it would face from a new arena in Inglewood, seeks to stop the Clippers Arena in its tracks.”

The filing accused MSG of using the lawsuits to force the Clippers to “abandon their plan to move to Inglewood.” Murphy’s Bowl wants the court to declare its 36-month exclusive negotiating agreement with Inglewood to be valid and enforceable.

Last month, Inglewood attorneys from Miller Barondess filed a motion accusing Latham & Watkins, which represents MSG, of orchestrating anti-arena lawsuits by two community groups. The attorneys want a court order compelling Latham & Watkins to turn over documents about Uplift Inglewood and Inglewood Residents Against Takings and Evictions, known as IRATE, after the firm balked at producing the material.

“We are absolutely not funded by MSG and have been around since 2015 advocating for housing justice policies in the city prior to any dispute between the city and MSG,” D’Artagnan Scorza, an Inglewood resident representing Uplift Inglewood, told The Times.

The proposed Inglewood arena would be constructed on land along West Century Boulevard, with the privately financed venue anchoring a larger development. It would be located near an upcoming NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers as well as The Forum–a former NBA-NHL venue that opened in 1967, and has been revived into a destination for concerts over the last several years under the ownership of MSG.

It could take some time for the status of the proposed arena to be resolved. The Clippers are pitching the venue as they approach the end of their STAPLES Center lease, which expires in 2024.

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