The LA Clippers' proposed new basketball arena cleared a critical hurdle Tuesday, when the Inglewood (California) City Council unanimously approved the environmental impact report for the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center.
The vote is a major milestone in the approval process for the Clippers' arena. The franchise's project to build a sprawling campus that will include the team's corporate office, practice facility and outdoor plaza plans to break ground in the summer of 2021. The arena is slated to open for the start of the 2024-25 season after the Clippers' lease at Staples Center expires.
"We're so excited to get our new arena project across the finish line in Inglewood," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said in a video presentation to the City Council. "... I want to boldly tell you our vision for this arena: We want to simply make it the single greatest place in the world for basketball, a basketball palace with no peer. We want to make sure that we are giving back to our community and to being great citizens here in Inglewood."
"Today's vote is a big milestone for our project," Ballmer added. "We look forward to celebrating the achievement in person, breaking ground on the project and, by 2024, tipping off to get ready for the first Clippers game in the city of Inglewood."
The City Council has a procedural vote next week to reaffirm today's unanimous vote, and there is another city vote expected on the land that the project will be built on. Even so, Tuesday's vote is considered a major milestone for the franchise seeking its own home in Los Angeles.
The project has received certification from Gov. Gavin Newsom that it will not result in any additional greenhouse gas emissions.
In March, Ballmer's arena project cleared a major obstacle when he reached an agreement to purchase the Forum in Inglewood from The Madison Square Garden Company for $400 million in cash. Purchasing the Forum cleared existing litigation that stood in the way of building a new arena near the music venue.
In addition to the state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat arena, the Clippers say the project will generate jobs, an estimated $260 million in annual economic activity for the city and $100 million in tax revenue in the first 15 years. The team also says it has committed $100 million to programs to impact Inglewood children and families, $75 million to support affordable housing and $5.5 million to support first-time home buyers.