Inglewood approves environmental report for Clippers arena



The Clippers’ plans for a billion-dollar arena complex moved closer to reality Tuesday after Inglewood’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the environmental impact report for the project.

The approval came seven months after the release of the report, which spanned thousands of pages and required nearly two years to complete, found that the 28-acre Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Complex would bring traffic and jobs to the intersection of West Century Boulevard and South Prairie Avenue while ruling it would not contribute to gentrification of its surrounding area.

Murphy’s Bowl LLC, a Clippers-controlled company backing the privately financed project, hopes to begun construction by mid-2021 and open the complex’s anchor, an 18,000-seat arena, in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. The Clippers’ lease at Staples Center, the team’s home since 1999, ends in 2024.

As part of a presentation Tuesday to the City Council, the project’s developer, Wilson Meany, played a nearly 13-minute video in which Clippers coach Doc Rivers, owner Steve Ballmer, president of business operations Gillian Zucker, and Hall of Fame player and team advisor Jerry West exhorted the approval.

“I want to boldly tell you our vision for this arena,” Ballmer said in the video. “We want to simply make it the single greatest place in the world for basketball. A basketball palace with no peer.”

Ballmer thanked Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr., the council and city staffers and repeated the team’s pledge to commit $100 million in community benefits toward Inglewood. Later, he said the team and city were linked by what he called a “common bond.”

“At various times, both the team and the city have been seen as underdogs and even counted out by the critics,” Ballmer said. “Well, that sure hasn’t been right for Inglewood and it sure [is] not right now for the Clippers.”

The approval of the environmental report is the latest milestone for the project, which cleared another significant hurdle in May when Ballmer purchased the Forum from Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. for $400 million in cash. As part of the deal, MSG agreed to end its long-running legal battle opposing the proposed Clippers arena. The day after the sale closed, attorneys filed paperwork to dismiss five lawsuits against the project that were either filed or backed by MSG.

Murphy’s Bowl signed an agreement with Bhagat Investments this month, according to public records, to purchase land on West Century Boulevard that is currently home to the Rodeway Inn & Suites. Plans call for the area to be part of an entry plaza that will be flanked by dining and retail space. The parcel is one of a handful owned by private parties that are in the footprint of the arena complex. Twenty-two of the complex’s 28 acres are controlled by Inglewood.

The Clippers arena would sit across the street from SoFi Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, and the presence of two major venues so close together led to concerns over traffic. The environmental report projected that the basketball arena would host 62 major events annually and would lead to a “large number of significant and unavoidable transportation impacts” while also calling for developers to address such traffic by funding improvements to nearby streets and freeway offramps and shuttles to nearby Metro stations, among other measures.

The report also estimated that the project would create 1,000 full-time non-construction jobs in Inglewood.

Times staff writer Nathan Fenno contributed to this report.





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