We end 2018 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #7: A proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood sparks controversy.
The Los Angeles Clippers are ending 2018 with some progress in their pursuit of a new arena in Inglewood, but also some uncertainty. Legal battles–including one with Madison Square Garden Co.–are unfolding as the new year approaches, and actions this month intensified that dispute.
The proposed Clippers Inglewood arena is slated for city-owned land on land along West Century Boulevard, and is envisioned as a privately financed anchor of a larger development project. Inglewood began an exclusive 36-month negotiating period with Clippers-controlled entity Murphy’s Bowl, LLC in the summer of 2017, and the concept has at times been at the center of controversies.
Earlier this year, MSG–owner of the nearby The Forum— 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. Murphy’s Bowl took legal action of its own earlier this month, countersuing MSG with a claim that it is using legal challenges to force the Clippers to scrap plans for an Inglewood move. Furthermore, it asked the court to declare its negotiating period with the city valid. Prior to that action, the two sides put their resources into opposing candidates in the Inglewood mayoral race, which ended with Butts receiving another term.
While the battle between MSG and the Clippers has loomed over the ongoing discussions, it is not the only challenge against the plan. Affordable housing advocates have alleged that the city violated the Surplus Land Act, a law stating that public bodies must grant first priority to affordable housing development when selling public land, upon making the site available in discussions with the Clippers.
The year was not completely dominated by legal challenges, though, as the Clippers did make some progress with the passage of a bill that allows the proposed arena to receive an expedited judicial review process if it faces a challenge over environmental concerns. Such bills are not uncommon for major sports facility projects in California–in fact, similar legislation was approved for a potential new ballpark for MLB’s Oakland A’s–and it could help the Clippers keep the project on track if it moves forward.
With discussions continuing and time remaining in the negotiation window, the prospect of a Clippers arena in Inglewood is viable. Still, the year is ending with legal challenges hanging over the proposal, providing some uncertainties as the Clippers work to finalize a potential replacement for Staples Center, where their lease expires in 2024.
Here’s our Top Ten of 2018 to date: