The Los Angeles Clippers may soon be leaving Staples Center behind, as ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk reported Tuesday that team owner Steve Ballmer has invested $100 million in the city of Inglewood, California, where the Clips are aiming to move.
Per Youngmisuk, the investment "was negotiated with city officials from Inglewood as part of their arena development agreement and is set to be revealed Tuesday at an Inglewood City Council meeting."
Youngmisuk also reported that $80 million of the investment will go toward affordable housing as well as financial assistance to renters and first-time homebuyers. School and youth programs will benefit from an additional $12.75 million.
Per Brittany Martin of Los Angeles Magazine, Ballmer is aiming to open the arena for games beginning in 2024. Proposed amenities include "a 26-acre complex with a sports medicine clinic, facilities for community sports groups, dining and retail spaces, a solar-panel-clad roof, indoor-outdoor 'sky gardens,' team offices, and an outdoor game-viewing area with massive digital screens."
Youngmisuk noted that Ballmer wants a college basketball-like atmosphere, and that includes a single section with no tiers behind baskets, much like NCAA hoops arenas.
"I want it to be a noisy building," Ballmer said.
"I really want that kind of energy; think Oracle [Arena] has been that way, Utah, Portland has got good energy. I think our Clipper fan base is a little more tenacious. They're people [who have] decided they're sticking with us, and now I think we will get new kinds of fans with Paul [George] and Kawhi [Leonard] joining us, but I think it is a hardcore fan base. I think that we can get real noise, real energy in the building."
The Clippers' proposed stadium isn't without opposition. Per Martin, "community groups in Inglewood have expressed concern over the development, citing fears of escalating gentrification and fundamental change to the neighborhood's character." One group, the Uplift Inglewood Coalition, is suing the city.
Per the Public Interest Law Project, "over 80 percent of Inglewood residents qualify for some sort of subsidized housing." Furthermore, Inglewood rents have reportedly risen by nearly 25 percent in the past five years.
"We're close to a residential neighborhood, and we are being very mindful," Ballmer told ESPN in July about plans to build in Inglewood. "Investing well into the community, being a good citizen of the community. No homes need to get moved, but we need to be a good neighbor."
Ballmer's Clippers arena would join Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. The football and entertainment complex is scheduled to open in 2020.
Until the Clips break ground, however, the Staples Center will continue to host both the Lakers and Clippers, which has been the case since 1999.
Los Angeles is riding a significant wave of momentum this offseason, highlighted by the acquisitions of two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and six-time All-Star Paul George.
That duo joins a Clips team that finished 48-34 and pushed the eventual Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
With Leonard and George, L.A. is a championship contender: Caesars Palace lists the Clippers second on the title odds ledger at 9-2, behind only the L.A. Lakers at 3-1.