MSG sues over Clippers arena, says Inglewood mayor used personal cell phone to cheat them out of land

And check it out, it’s another lawsuit, this one filed by Madison Square Garden (owners of the Forum in Inglewood) against the city of Inglewood over its plans to let the Los Angeles Clippers build a new arena nearby. Which sounds implausible — since when do you get to sue just because somebody else is building a competing arena nearby — until you get to this line:

MSG’s lawyers claim [Inglewood Mayor James] Butts tricked MSG into giving up the arena’s lease of the city-owned land and then tried to cover his tracks by negotiating with a personal email address and private cell phone.

Now we’re talking! MSG says that Butts got them to give up their option on the land the Clippers now intend to use by telling them he needed it for a “technology park,” which in their eyes constitutes breach of contract, fraud, and contractual interference. As a practicing non-lawyer, I have no idea whether this is a viable legal strategy, but as an unabashed fan of embarrassing public spectacles involving politicians and major sports corporations, I consider the mere existence of this suit a win.

8 comments on “MSG sues over Clippers arena, says Inglewood mayor used personal cell phone to cheat them out of land

  1. Despite the ongoing tax break for their namesake venue, MSG should be appreciated by this site. Not only for spending $100 million of their own bucks on The Forum renovations, but for being the main driver in killing the Jets Hudson Yards dome project.

    • To your point Steve, they also spent their own money on the Garden renovations (granted they did get property tax relief). I despise Cablevision and Dolan as owner has been a nightmare for the Knicks, but at least he pays his own freight for the most part.

    • The devil is in the details… if the Dolans got an equivalent amount of tax relief (or other benefit) as they spent in ‘actual cash’, then they aren’t really spending their own money… they are spending money that would otherwise have gone to taxes (property or otherwise).

      My bank wouldn’t give me “credit” for not paying my mortgage and instead using the money I would have paid them to improve the property.

  2. If all that is true, that’s a pretty dirty trick by Inglewood. The new place with an NBA tenant would clearly have the upper hand and it’s extremely likely that would eventually spell the end for The Forum. And a long, drawn out competition would hurt both The Forum and the new arena who would also be losing plenty of business.

    • In other words, stupid evil billionaires losing money. If it weren’t for collateral damage (such as ushers, concessions workers and security losing work) I’d say, is that a bad thing?

      • If you could guarantee only the billionaires lost out it’d be fine. But no guarantees of that. If The Forum were to close people would lose jobs and it’d eventually get torn down–most likely with public dollars coming into play. And how much public money would this new arena end up costing?

  3. Interesting move by MSG re: Inglewood land option.

    Lots of water to flow under this particular bridge, but it would be very interesting to read the details of the agreement (was it a written termination of the option? If so were any specifics included as to what the option was being terminated for or limitations on what could be built there? Was it just a polite phone call? A vague promise that MSG wouldn’t file a claim if the land were used for a tech park?? We just don’t know…) under which the option was surrendered or cancelled.

    As the man said, “bring lawyers, guns and money”.