Clippers owner offers $100m in loans for housing and libraries as sweetener for arena deal

The Los Angeles Clippers arena battle is a weird one: Team owner Steve Ballmer says he’ll pay for the arena himself (yay) but wants the right to put up more ad signage than would normally be legally allowed, might want to use eminent domain to seize some property, negotiated with the Inglewood city council without telling anyone it was about a Clippers arena in apparent violation of open meetings laws, and is getting sued by both Madison Square Garden and some local citizens over the project (all boo, to varying degrees). All of which sort of explains why Ballmer is looking to sweeten the pot by offering to loan $100 million toward public benefits for Inglewood residents as part of the deal:

Such benefits, presented Tuesday at a meeting of Inglewood’s council by city manager Artie Fields, would include “up to $75 million in low-interest loans for the acquisition, preservation, or development of affordable and mixed-income housing in Inglewood,” according to the team. Other proposals include more than $12 million for youth and education programs, up to $6 million toward improvements of its public library and financial assistance for renters and first-time homeowners in the city.

This is all a yay, though it’s worth noting that the Los Angeles Times story on it didn’t bother to answer (or even ask) the question of whether this money would come out of Ballmer’s pocket or from some cut of arena revenues or taxes, or who would repay the loans or how. (Hey, L.A. Times! If you’re going to put up one of the strictest paywalls in all of journalism, at least use some of the resulting cash to give your reporters room to report!)

Still, it’s at least something more than most team owners do as part of arena deals, so it’s better than a kick in the head. Yet again, we’re seeing how the ease of getting voter initiatives on the ballot in West Coast states forces sports franchises to actually offer reasonable deals rather than just asking elected officials for wads of cash behind voters’ backs; democracy might not solve everything, but still has its benefits.

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6 comments on “Clippers owner offers $100m in loans for housing and libraries as sweetener for arena deal

  1. There’s something funny about an owner saying ‘I’ll pay for the venue myself’ in a place where there’s no market for said venue.

  2. The eminent domain issue is long gone. The site was downsized shortly after plans for the arena were announced.

    Also, the FAA has confirmed what they’ve said all along and that’s that the site isn’t suitable for housing of any kind but that the arena fits the criteria for a project that can go there. The upcoming hearing on the issue is a waste of time. Ballmer doesn’t need to be making the $100 million investment on housing as a way of pacifying everyone. He’s doing it because he sees it as a good investment and it’s the right thing to do.

    Dolan’s lawsuit is garbage as well. I’ve always wondered why if something was in writing then why haven’t we seen it yet. Well now we know why. Vanity Fair came out with this article stating that there’s nothing in writing so he has no legal leg to stand on either.

    1. I am no Attorney but I expect Ballmer to eventually win. Why? History. I am from Long Island, New York (Dolan Family’s home base), so I know all about the Dolan Family (Cablevision, Knicks, Rangers and MSG Network/Sports Channel) and everything they touch ends up bad (Jim even more then his dad Chuck )

  3. Inglewood has never met a billboard it didn’t like. If this thing gets built, the signage is a given.

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