The fate of the Forum in Inglewood is very much in question, and two billionaires appear to be at odds.
James Dolan, who owns the arena and the New York Knicks, is suing the city of Inglewood and Mayor James Butts over an agreement to explore a new home for the Los Angeles Clippers near the Forum, and for allegedly lying about it, Bloomberg reported.
Steve Ballmer — who owns the Clippers — is not a party to the suit, but likely has a say in where the team will end up playing.
Dolan alleges that the city asked him to give up its long-term lease and a purchase option on a 15-acre parking facility about a mile from the Forum, according to the suit. That was done, Dolan alleges, under the pretense that Inglewood planned to develop a technology park there. That could have been a boon for the Forum, the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings, which four years ago the Madison Square Garden Company spent $100 million turning into a live music venue.
Instead, the suit alleges that “to the Forum’s shock, the ‘technology park’ turned out to be the proposed Clippers arena,” according to the suit. The new arena, which presumably would also host other events, would be a major competitor to the Forum.
A project manager for the Clippers arena construction shrugged off the suit.
“MSG has been threatening a lawsuit for months and while we only just received a copy, it appears there are no new issues that weren’t previously made and dismissed by the city of Inglewood,” Chris Meany said.
The city announced in February that it would put together an environmental impact report for the Clippers arena. The Clippers’ lease at the Staples Center in Downtown, where the Lakers and L.A. Kings also play, runs out in 2024.
The Clippers’ planned move to Inglewood comes in addition to the current construction of a new stadium that will host the N.F.L.’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. It is rising at the former site of the Hollywood Park Racetrack, but has faced delays. It’s expected to open in 2020.
The Madison Square Garden Company filed a separate complaint last summer, after the Clippers announced it had a three-year deal to explore the possibility of a new complex in Inglewood, claiming the secret deal violated the state’s constitution. The plan so far isn’t terribly popular with locals either, because the plan for the Clippers’ complex includes privately-owned lots that would have to be purchased or acquired through eminent domain. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch