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MSG Files New Lawsuit Over Clippers Arena Project

New L.A. Clippers arena

Forum owner Madison Square Garden Co. has filed another lawsuit over a proposed LA Clippers arena, this time challenging California governor Gavin Newsom and the state legislature over the legality of approved legislation designed to aid the project.

The Clippers are seeking to construct a new arena in Inglewood, with the privately financed venue to anchor the larger The Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center. Earlier in the planning process, California lawmakers approved AB 987, legislation to make the plan eligible for an expedited judicial review process if it faces a legal challenge over environmental concerns. Newsom certified the project for the process last month over the objections of MSG, which has responded by filing a lawsuit against Newsom and the state legislature.

Filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the lawsuit asserts that the legislation violates the state constitution in multiple respects, including by creating special rules to benefit the Clippers. “With respect to this project, AB 987 undermines the robust environmental protections that California law would ordinarily provide to the residents of Inglewood and neighboring communities,” the lawsuit states, adding: “If the Clippers’ project proceeds in its current form, it will inflict severe traffic congestion, pollution, and many other harms on Inglewood and its local residents.”

MSG has filed other lawsuits in its fight against the project, and has taken that effort a step further with its latest legal challenge. More from The Mercury News:

In its lawsuit, MSG — which is concerned about competition for concerts from a state-of-the-art arena roughly a mile away — argues the Legislature’s explanation is insufficient to avoid violating the constitution.

The lawsuit also alleges AB 987 further violates the state’s founding document by limiting the possibility of judicial review by making the governor’s initial certification exempt from a court challenge and by requiring any lawsuits against the project to wrap up within 270 days.

MSG argues AB 987 is less stringent than AB 900 and gives more time for the developers to meet required environmental standards.

The special legislation for the Clippers is not necessarily unique among sports venues. AB 734 similarly passed last year and is designed to only benefits the Oakland Athletics’ new ballpark.

Discussions about the proposal have prompted other 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. That case remains ongoing.

The Clippers are seeking to open the arena in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. It would serve as the team’s replacement for downtown Los Angeles’s Staples Center, where their lease expires in 2024.

Rendering courtesy L.A. Clippers.

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