Clippers’ Inglewood arena plans face MSG suit, could require taking homes by eminent domain

The Inglewood city council, after voting last month to enter into an “exclusive negotiating agreement” with Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer for a new arena, voted again on Friday to do the same thing, after getting a claim filed against it by the owners of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday for — you know what, let’s take this one step at a time:

  • Since February, there’s been talk that Ballmer wanted to build his own arena in Inglewood, possibly adjacent to the Los Angeles Rams’ (and Chargers‘) new stadium, so that he (and maybe Rams owner Stan Kroenke) could create his own entertainment district to compete with AEG’s L.A. Live next to the Clippers’ (and Lakers‘) current home at the Staples Center.
  • Inglewood councilmembers voted in June to approve that three-year negotiating agreement, which has no funding or operating details beyond “We wanna build an arena, let’s figure this out.”
  • Last Wednesday, MSG — which owns the Forum arena, formerly the home of the Lakers and now used mostly for concerts, and which is owned by James Dolan of New York Knicks and terrible singing fame — filed that claim for damages against Inglewood, claiming city officials asked them to give up their lease on parking lots across the street from the new football stadium site in April by telling them it was for a new “business-technology park.” Which, you’d think Dolan and his lawyers could have read the newspapers back in February to see this coming, but okay. MSG’s lawyers said if the city didn’t cancel the deal with Ballmer, they’d file suit.
  • Inglewood doubled down on Friday by voting unanimously to reauthorize the agreement with Ballmer, to meet any concerns that the June vote had taken place without public notice (one of the charges in MSG’s claim).
  • Friday’s vote was attended by 40 Inglewood residents protesting that the city was considering using eminent domain to force them off of their privately owned land to make way for the arena, or otherwise displace them by helping to gentrify their neighborhood.
  • Inglewood Mayor James Butts said no one was being displaced, that the arena would be built entirely on public land.
  • An MSG press spokesperson fired off an email to the Los Angeles Times saying that the land Ballmer is seeking contains hundreds of homes, apartments, and businesses, and “there is no question that residents would need to be displaced within this area.”

So, what the hell? The agreement itself includes this color-coded map by owner type:

The white parcels are the privately-owned bits of land, so, yeah, I’d say there should be some concern about eminent domain being used. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’d be impossible to build an arena, let alone a surrounding entertainment district, without obtaining some private land.

Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps:

This is shaping up to be a big-ass mess, and that’s before we’ve even gotten into the question of who’s going to pay for it. Ballmer and Butts are going to need all of those three years, I’m guessing.

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13 comments on “Clippers’ Inglewood arena plans face MSG suit, could require taking homes by eminent domain

  1. Has California made it illegal to use eminent domain for private economic development?

  2. I would think there should just be some second class of eminent domain, which pay double the market amount if it is not an actual public need.

    You don’t want rent seeking from people holding out just because they want a big payday, but you also want to make sure people are properly taken care of.

  3. There is so much land on the Hollywood Park/LA Rams site, enough to house a football stadium and basketball arena. Inglewood should make Ballmer negotiate with Stan Kroenke to build his new arena on that site. If Kroenke doesn’t want it, then Ballmer has to go elsewhere.

  4. Although the arena is really not necessary, the logical solution is for MSG to control the booking calendar for the arena.

    Unless special detail is paid to acoustics, The Forum will still be superior for concerts.

      1. Be careful what you wish for Lando :)

        Yes, they are horrible at running a basketball team and will milk every drop out of their special NYC tax situation, but nobody stands up to the NFL like MSG. Thanks to their clout, the Jets ridiculous Manhattan Dome was scuttled and the league will never forget.

        MSG bought into Inglewood ($100 million including reno) before Kroenke. The Forum is on the National Register of Historic places, which makes tear-down extremely unlikely. It would make sense for the city to be a good neighbor and bring all parties to the table.

  5. Nice euphemism used by the mapmaker. The white properties are labeled “Possible Participating Parcels”
    I’m sure it will totally voluntary.

  6. I’ve driven through that Site A area many times. That’s going to be a very awkward area to build an “Entertainment District” in, especially one that can compete with LA Live. LA Live is downtown, in a high-density area, next to public transportation. This Site A area is surrounded by a low-slung, low-density working class residential area. That doesn’t make much sense to me.

    1. They might be planning something more along the lines of a Grove style development than LA Live.

      Public transportation was never a consideration with the Hollywood Park site. The nearest light rail stop will be over a mile away. A trolley up and down Prairie connecting this development with the Green and Crenshaw lines would help.

      1. I was thinking the same thing but neither the green nor the crenshaw line have stops at Prairie so they either need to build 2 new stops or it’s going to be an awkward trolley. Either that or they’re just going to make people walk all the way to Prairie from the current stops which would make for a dangerous walk late at night when the basketball games end.

        1. Both lines have stops on LaBrea/ Hawthorne Blvd, one major street over, making a trolley loop somewhat easy

  7. I agree with many of the comments pointing out the unnecessary displacement of residents and businesses. There is more than enough land on the Hollywood Park lot to put the entire Clipper project on the other side of Century, in a commercial area, not literally 30feet from homes. The Clippers and the stadium could share/lease each other’s parking lots, decreasing the eyesore of unnecessary blacktop and no residents or businesses would have to displaced. Mayor Butts and his flunkies are only thinking of selling the city’s parcels and getting publicity, not what’s best for residents. It’
    s also very telling that after they were forced to have a new vote, because the first one was illegal, James Butts had both the videos for the first meeting and the second meeting sent into limbo so no one could have access to them… Effective, but blatantly obvious.

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