LOS ANGELES – A day after introducing their newest on-court acquisitions to the public, the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday unveiled the first renderings of what their planned state-of-the-art sports complex will look like.
And as he did with acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is sparing no expense when it comes to his team’s future home.
Funded entirely by Ballmer — a former Microsoft CEO who is the wealthiest of all professional sports owners in the United States — the facility will encompass 26 acres in Inglewood, Calif. At a cost of a billion dollars, the complex will house the Clippers’ entire operation, including a training facility, corporate headquarters and the crown jewel, an 18,500-seat arena.
“My goal is simple. I want the Clippers to have the best home in all of sports,” Ballmer said in a news release. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that re-sets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.”
The club plans on opening the facility in 2024, the year its lease at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles comes to an end. The Clippers are currently considered the third tenant in Staples Center, meaning they come after the rival Lakers and the Kings of the NHL when it comes to scheduling preferences.
“When I bought the team (in 2014), I thought it was great we didn’t need to build an arena,” Ballmer said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “But as we looked forward, we were at some disadvantages in Staples Center.”
Known as the Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center, the facility also will include community and retail spaces, per the team’s release. The arena’s exterior will designed in a three-dimensional oval shape, with diamond-shaped metal panels the outermost cover. The diamonds are meant to symbolize the diamond shapes of a basketball going through the net.
Inside the arena, much of the seating will be divided into upper and lower bowels, though an area behind a basket will run from the floor to the top row, undivided. Ballmer called that section a “wall of sound,” according to the Times, which added the idea was inspired by the noise at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., and Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
Outside the arena, a viewing area inspired by Toronto’s famed “Jurassic Park” will include a giant LED screen for fans to watch the game.
One tricky aspect of the project is location. Not only are the Rams and Chargers of the NFL building a stadium directly across the street (and they plan to begin playing there in 2020), but the Clippers’ planned site is also less than a mile from the Forum, the Lakers’ home before Staples Center.
The current owner of the Forum, Madison Square Garden Co. of New York, is currently battling the Clippers in court over part of the land. The CEO of MSG is Knicks owner James Dolan. Ballmer reportedly said it is “a little awkward” to be engaged in lawsuits with another NBA owner.
“We’ll see if there’s a chance to resolve without finishing litigation, great,” Ballmer said, per the Times. “And if it takes finishing litigation, we’re not backing down. We will continue.”
Ballmer also said that, while he and his wife, Connie, will continue to live in Seattle, he is committed to keeping the Clippers in the Los Angeles area.
“We’re not moving,” Ballmer said, “and neither is our basketball team. Let’s get that out of the way.”
After losing in the first round of the NBA playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference last season, the Clippers are now among the betting favorites to win the championship in 2020 after landing reigning NBA Finals MVP Leonard via free agency and adding George via trade.
–Field Level Media