Newly uncovered emails from 2017 show that Madison Square Garden Co. officials pitched the Los Angeles Lakers on a return to Inglewood’s Forum, but those discussions ultimately led nowhere.
Originally opening in 1967, the Forum was the home of the Lakers and the NHL’s Kings until both teams moved to downtown Los Angeles’ Staples Center in 1999. The Lakers are currently playing at Staples Center on a lease that runs through the 2024-25 NBA season, and MSG sought a few years ago to present a long-term facility plan that would call for the team to return to Inglewood.
Under what was discussed in the emails, the Forum–which MSG owns and has re-purposed into a venue for non-sporting events such as concerts and award shows–could have either been renovated or rebuilt to accommodate both the NBA and concerts. Such a project would allow the Lakers to return to Inglewood on a full-time basis, and could have effectively squelched the ongoing efforts by the Los Angeles Clippers to build a new arena at a site near the Forum. However, the ideas floated in those emails–uncovered as part of an ongoing legal dispute between MSG and the City of Inglewood over the potential Clippers’ arena–led nowhere, as both the Lakers and MSG are now confirming. More from the Los Angeles Times:
The day before the Clippers announced plans to explore building an arena in Inglewood, business mogul Irving Azoff floated an idea to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and top advisor Linda Rambis about a move that could undercut the Clippers and prompt a seismic shift in the Los Angeles sports landscape.
“Heres my dream,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14, 2017. “Rebuild the forum from scratch. Lakers plus music. boom.”
The Lakers now say that vision won’t be realized, and they are believed to be discussing an extension to their Staples Center lease that runs through the 2024-25 season….
In a statement, MSG said it “approached the Lakers about the possibility of repurposing the Forum in the future to accommodate basketball once again, but ultimately nothing came of it.”
Inglewood began an exclusive 36-month negotiating period with Clippers-controlled entity Murphy’s Bowl, LLC in the summer of 2017, with discussions revolving around a privately financed arena and surrounding development on city-owned land near the Forum. Discussions about the proposal have prompted some legal disputes, including a lawsuit by MSG against 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 Clippers have been exploring a new Inglewood arena as they approach the 2024 expiration of their lease at Staples Center.
Image courtesy The Forum.
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