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Clippers Arena Plan Stalls Amidst Questions on Environmental Implications

New L.A. Clippers arena

The proposal for a Los Angeles Clippers arena in Inglewood could stall over environmental concerns, as a state board does not believe the project meets necessary standards.

The Clippers are working to build a new arena in Inglewood by the 2024-25 NBA season, proposing the venue as part of a larger project named The Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center. The 26-acre development located on West Century Boulevard between South Prairie Avenue and South Yukon Avenue would also include the team’s business and basketball offices, training facility, community and retail spaces.

Earlier in the planning process, California lawmakers approved legislation to make the Clippers arena plan eligible for an expedited judicial review process if it faces a challenge over environmental concerns. Then-governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law about a year ago, but the ultimate decision of whether the project qualifies for the benefits set out by the legislation belongs to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

CARB has yet to approve the project’s application, and it appears that the Clippers need to resolve some issues with the agency. In a letter to both parties on Tuesday, California governor Gavin Newsom urged them to work together to move the project through the process, though the specific concerns stalling the project’s application have not been publicly disclosed. For the Clippers, the benefits of the bill–including the expedited judicial review process–could be vital to the project, especially given the opposition levied by Madison Square Garden Co. and a timeline that calls for launching construction in 2021. More from Daily Breeze:

Newsom was disappointed to learn that the two sides had reached an impasse over “key questions related to environmental mitigations” for the proposed arena, according to the letter.

However, the governor signaled that he would not intervene in the decision-making process by CARB, an independent body tasked with determining whether the Clippers can adequately prevent a net increase in greenhouse gases and other emissions. State law requires at least half of the reductions come from local measures, such as expanding public transit.

“I support holding project sponsors to California’s high standards for environmental benefit and mitigation, and I hope you collectively can find a path forward,” Newsom wrote.

Assemby Bill 987, passed in 2017 and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018, was designed to speed up the process for the Clippers and protect the development from drawn-out litigation. If CARB doesn’t approve the project, it is likely to get locked down for years because of lawsuits brought by its opposition, the Madison Square Garden Co., owners of The Forum concert venue.

Although Clippers owner Steve Ballmer recently expressed confidence that the arena proposal will move forward, it has drawn strong opposition from Madison Square Garden Co.–owner of Inglewood’s Forum, a venue located less than a mile from the site targeted for the Clippers’ project. In addition to litigation, MSG has mounted a public opposition campaign against the proposal, including a Forum-launched website that alleges negative environmental implications from the project.

Discussions of a new Clippers arena come as the team approaches the 2024 expiration of its lease to downtown Los Angeles’s Staples Center, where it is currently part of a busy slate that includes the NBA’s Lakers and NHL’s Kings. Detailed plans on the proposal, including renderings of the arena and surrounding area, were released in July.

Rendering courtesy L.A. Clippers.

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