The Real Deal Los Angeles

MSG protests Clippers’ bid to streamline environmental review of new arena

Clippers shoot back that MSG is motivated by “corporate profits”
By Gregory Cornfield | February 05, 2019 04:00PM

James Dolan, CEO of MSG Company and Steve Ballmer, owner of the Clippers, continue to butt heads over the proposed Inglewood basketball arena. (Credit: MSG, and Wikipedia)

Madison Square Garden Company isn’t holding back in its efforts to prevent the L.A. Clippers from building an 18,000-seat arena and entertainment complex in Inglewood.

The company is protesting the Clippers’ recent request to cap the amount of time the development could be held up by environmental challenges in court.

In a letter filed this week with the California Office of Planning and Research, MSG claims the Clippers’ application for the proposed arena, at 3940 W. Century Boulevard, is inaccurate and misleading, and that “the negative legal and policy precedent that would be established by approval of this application cannot be overstated.”

The state’s fast-track process allows designated “leadership projects” to move quicker through the judicial system than others. If the Clippers win approval for the streamlined process, the courts would have 175 days to decide on any challenge related to the California Environmental Quality Act. Most environmental litigation lasts several months to a year.

Such litigation is likely to arise considering the project and the city are already the subject of environmental lawsuits and challenges from MSG, which owns the nearby Forum arena, and affordable housing advocates.

To qualify for the faster track, a project must be valued at $100 million or more, and it must not result in additional greenhouse gas emissions. In its letter, MSG alleges a range of disqualifying issues, including negative effects on traffic congestion, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and the validity of the project’s labor requirements.

The Clippers shot back at MSG on Tuesday.

“New York-based MSG are looking out for their own corporate profits while trying to block economic prosperity for the residents of Inglewood,” Howard Sunkin, a project spokesperson, said in a statement to The Real Deal.

“The L.A. Clippers are fully committed to completing a thorough environmental review and creating the most environmentally advanced, and fan friendly basketball facility in Inglewood by 2024.”

The dispute between MSG and the Clippers began when MSG alleged that Inglewood Mayor James Butts convinced the company to forfeit land near the Forum arena to make room for an office park. Instead, Inglewood gave the land to the Clippers to build a competing arena less than a mile away.

Butts said MSG gave up the land to settle a dispute with L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke – who’s also building a massive football stadium across the street.

Construction for the Clippers’ stadium is set to begin in 2021, and be completed by 2024, when the team’s current lease at Staples Center expires.

The proposed arena would also include a practice facility, office space, a sports medicine clinic, retail space, and a 150-room hotel. It would host preseason games, 41 regular season games, and up to 16 playoff games each year, and it could also be used for performances or civic events.