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Proposed Clippers arena will provide economic boost

INGLEWOOD — The first extended information on the proposed basketball arena that will house the Los Angeles Clippers promised an economic shot in the arm for the city of Inglewood.

The proposed Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center is expected to bring an estimated $268 million in economic impact to Inglewood annually, and more than $190 million in new tax revenue between 2020-2045, according to the L.A. Clippers.

Officials said the tax revenue could help support local schools, city services like parks, libraries and police and fire stations.

The project is expected to create an estimated 10,000 construction jobs and more than 1,500 permanent jobs. Meanwhile, with local hire guidelines in place, 30% of available construction jobs will go to local labor and 35% of the available arena operation jobs will go to local residents. 

“It’s more of the right thing for Inglewood,” Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. said.

The Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Center would be built on mostly vacant city-owned land on West Century Boulevard between South Prarie Avenue. 

However, two different groups have sued the city of Inglewood regarding the land use.

“The arena being proposed is still on public land and we contend that’s in violation of the California Surplus Land Act,” said D’Artagnan Scorza, a member of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition and an Inglewood school board member. “That’s the reason we have pending litigation is to challenge the development of this arena because we want to make sure that the public’s needs are prioritized first.

“If this arena move forward, it needs to move forward with a strong community benefits package, in order to protect the interests of our local communities and to make sure that there is an investment that comes in directly to Inglewood families in terms of our schools and our into our communities.”

Madison Square Garden, which owns the nearby Forum, is also suing the city of Inglewood, over disputes to the city-owned land, which it once leased for overflow parking.

Mayor Butts has long made it his goal to turn Inglewood into a sports and entertainment destination that would rival any major city in North America.

“This city is progressing like never before because we have the resources, we have respect and we are in a position to make sure that our residents share in the prosperity,” Butts said. “The homeowners here are amassing generational wealth to pass on to their children.

“We have 5% rent cap moratorium in place now. We’re about to come up with a modified housing protection ordinance that will probably be even stronger than that, so we are trying to ensure that people can make for the five years it’s going to take for 12,000 jobs to come online in the LA Stadium and Entertainment District, which is the old Hollywood Park site. I intend to propose a cap on rents that will allow people to make it through to the promised land,” Mayor Butts said.

Officials said the privately financed project will feature the Clippers Arena, the team’s basketball and business operations headquarters, a training facility, community and retail spaces.

“My goal is simple. I want the Clippers to have the best home in all of sports,” said Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “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.”

Officials describe the proposed arena as “a three-dimensional oval design with a unique exterior of diamond-shaped metal panels inspired by the concept of a basketball swishing through a net.” Those panels are being designed to provide solar benefits for energy efficiency, as part of the facility’s LEED GOLD-certified design.

Striking indoor/outdoor landscaped “sky gardens” also are a major feature, intended to highlight the temperate climate of Southern California and offer food and beverage service accessible from every concourse level, Clippers representatives said. The complex also envisions a multi-purpose plaza complete with concert stage, community basketball courts and space for the community to gather and watch a super-sized LED screen.

The project was designed by AECOM, with elements designed by Anderson Barker Architects, City Design Studio and Hood Studios. It is being developed by Wilson Meany.

Meanwhile, Odest T. Riley Jr., a mortgage and real estate broker who was born and raised in Inglewood, called the proposed arena great.

“One of the big things to focus on is with a basketball team you have 41 home games and that’s 18,000 additional people in the city to bring more tax revenue, to shop in the city, to purchase things if you have a merchandise shop, if you have a restaurant, if you have a bar,” said Riley, who played basketball at Inglewood High School with former NBA all star Paul Pierce. Riley also serves on the Inglewood Housing Advisory Commission.

“With the Clippers, they’re not just bringing their basketball team here, they’re bringing their corporate office, so a lot of those people may not want to drive from long distances anymore. They may want to live near where they work,” Riley said. 

“That allows for the mortgage professionals and the real estate professionals in the city to bring people who are buying more expensive homes, help refinance people and such,” Riley said.

Riley does have some concerns about the project, but he believes the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

“It’s sad to see people have to leave but you also have to focus on the fact that for many years, many of us who grew up here, didn’t want to live here because it just wasn’t a place that had the money or had the infrastructure to raise my family and with those coming in now, there’s change. 

“It’s going to be some good and some bad but me personally I want to focus on the good side that we’re getting the infrastructure fixed, the streets are getting fixed. Taxes are going to hopefully start pouring back … to get the school district back on its feet.”

“We are excited to welcome the nation’s most philanthropic sports team to Inglewood,” Butts said. “Over the past three years, the Ballmers and the Clippers have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to improving communities like Inglewood. The Clippers’ presence in our city will create a sustainable revenue source and boost civic pride, revitalizing our community for years to come.”

The project is targeted for completion by fall of 2024, which would coincide with the expiration of the Clippers’ lease at Staples Center.

City News Service contributed to this story.

By John W. Davis

Contributing Writer