Developers pour big bucks into Inglewood mayoral race amid stadium showdown

The NBA Clippers and Madison Square Garden are battling over the site of a proposed arena

Challenger Marc Little, Inglewood Mayor James Butts
Challenger Marc Little, Inglewood Mayor James Butts

Massive development projects coming to Inglewood have ignited an a construction boom in the city and have also served to transform its mayoral race.

Developers are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign, choosing sides between incumbent Mayor James T. Butts and his opponent, conservative clergyman and lawyer Marc Little, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Little’s top contributor, the Madison Square Garden Company, has donated $600,000 to his campaign, a startling sum for a city of just over 110,000 people. MSG is in the middle of a bitter lawsuit with the mayor and the city over the development of the new stadium for the Los Angeles Clippers, a venue that would compete with its own Forum arena.

MSG is charging it was deceived when it gave the city the rights to a 15-acre parcel of land. According to MSG, the city said it would build a technology park there, but is now negotiating with the Clippers for the new stadium.

Meanwhile, candidate Little doesn’t support building the stadium on the site, becoming MSG’s favored candidate by default. Local groups have also sued the city over the project.

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Butts accuses MSG of trying to “gain control through a puppet of what’s going to be the most dynamic sports entertainment economy in the country,” according to the Times.

The Clippers camp has in turn poured money into Butt’s reelection campaign. Its owner, billionaire and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, donated $350,000 to a committee supporting the reelection. The Clippers franchise has given $26,000 directly to the Butts campaign. The project manager for the stadium site, Wilson Meany, also donated $15,000 to the Butts campaign. Meanwhile, project manager for the Clippers’ development, Christopher Meany, donated $55,000.

Little said he wants to spend more money on affordable housing and infrastructure development. He also wants to address traffic concerns from locals and accuses Butts and other public officials of nepotism and corruption.

Besides the Clippers arena, a $2.6 billion stadium is being built to host the L.A. Rams and Chargers, further serving to ignite development in the city. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch