NBA Clippers, Billionaire Owner Purchase LA’s Forum for $400 Million

LOS ANGELES (CN) — The Los Angeles Clippers and their billionaire owner Steve Ballmer announced Tuesday their new company CAPSS will purchase The Forum for $400 million in a deal that clears legal roadblocks to construction of a new basketball arena in Inglewood. 

The deal resolves legal challenges to Ballmer’s plan to move the Clippers from the Staples Center in downtown LA to a state-of-the-art basketball arena and team headquarters in Inglewood.

The Forum in Inglewood, California. (Ritapepaj via Wikipedia)

The Madison Square Garden Company, which owns The Forum, spearheaded lawsuits seeking to block the privately funded arena planned for construction along Inglewood’s West Century Boulevard.

The city of Inglewood and Ballmer’s development company Murphy’s Bowl were sued by community group Uplift Inglewood, which argued the project violated a California housing law requiring the property first be offered for affordable housing construction.

Uplift Inglewood, whose legal fees are being paid by Madison Square Garden Company, argues the new arena will drive up already high rental prices in the city and that affordable housing projects should have been prioritized. 

Murphy’s Bowl filed a countersuit against Madison Square Garden Company last year.

Attorneys for the parties did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The Forum will continue to operate as a live music venue within Inglewood’s sprawling entertainment district, which is set to feature a new football stadium for the Los Angeles Rams. 

“This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said in a statement. “We are committed to our investment in the City of Inglewood, which will be good for the community, the Clippers, and our fans.”

The Clippers said in the statement the deal by CAPSS LLC will improve traffic congestion issues around the 18,000-seat arena since both the team and venue will share management strategies.  

Under the deal — expected to close during the 2020 second quarter — employees at The Forum will be offered extended employment by the new owners. 

The Clippers’ statement also said the project will feature a $100 million community benefits package, though a Clippers representative did not immediately respond to a request for further details about the benefits.

Public hearings in Inglewood to approve the project are slated to take place this summer.

Inglewood officials are engaged in an environmental review of the project, which in 2018 received approval from the California State Senate to be exempt from a lengthier environmental impact review.

The global outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has forced the NBA to suspend the current season.

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