We end 2019 with a countdown of the five biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #4: New LA Clippers arena plans are unveiled.
Over this summer, the Los Angeles Clippers unveiled new arena plans in Inglewood with the release of design renderings and project specifications, but the franchise still has hurdles to move the project forward.
In the summer of 2017, Inglewood entered into an exclusive 36-month negotiating period with Clippers-controlled entity Murphy’s Bowl for the potential construction of a new arena and surrounding development on a city-owned site. Throughout the planning process, it has been expected that any project will be privately financed, with the Clippers seeking to do more with the land beyond simply building an arena. Some certainty behind those emerged in July, when the Clippers rolled out the concept for the $1-billion Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center.
Under the plans unveiled by the Clippers, the project will be anchored by an 18,500-seat arena, surrounded by a slate of amenities that includes the team’s business and basketball offices, training facility, community and retail spaces. The development be built over a 26-acre site located on West Century Boulevard between South Prairie Avenue and South Yukon Avenue, across from the upcoming SoFi Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers opening in 2020.
For the Clippers, the goal is to begin construction in 2021 and open the arena in time for the 2024-25 NBA season, coinciding with the expiration of their STAPLES Center lease in 2024. However, heading into 2020, the project still faces a number of obstacles.
The possibility of a new NBA arena has prompted lawsuits from Madison Square Garden Co.–owner of Inglewood’s Forum, a venue located near the site targeted for the Clippers’ project–that seeks to prevent the proposal from moving forward. MSG intensified its opposition over the course of 2019, including making public comments that criticize the project on environmental grounds. After delaying its decision, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) opted late this year to approve the proposal for a process that allows an expedited judicial review in the event of a lawsuit over environmental concerns.
CARB’s decision, which was certified by California governor Gavin Newsom, came after it determined that the project would be would be net carbon neutral, with initiatives such as 330 on-site electric car chargers and funding for 1,000 nearby residential chargers, the planting of 1,000 trees, and a push for LEED Gold certification on the arena included in the plans. However, MSG has contended that the project has numerous flaws, and would have serious environmental implications by leading to more cars on the road.
Going into 2020, the battle between MSG and the Clippers and Inglewood could among the factors that influences the outcome of the proposal. While it remains to be seen how that battle will play out in the new year, 2019 at least yielded a stronger sense of what the Clippers are hoping to obtain in Inglewood and what challenges lie ahead in their push to bring the vision to fruition.
Renderings courtesy L.A. Clippers.