UPDATED, Sept. 19, 2019, 10:25 a.m.: Steve Ballmer is negotiating a benefits package that could include a $100 million investment in Inglewood, with $75 million of that going toward the construction of affordable housing in a city with rapidly rising real estate prices.
The billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who is bankrolling the new Clippers’ arena project himself, is using the money as a peace offering aimed at affordable housing advocates that have sued to block its construction. The $100 million investment, which will be determined in a few months when the city considers the project for approval, would be distributed through nonprofit organizations.
The development, which would centralize all of the NBA team’s operations under one roof, has been the subject of six lawsuits. Construction plans call for the arena to be built on 22 acres of city-owned land, which affordable housing advocates oppose in a city that has seen a rapid increase in development and housing prices.
The 900,000-square-foot arena, dubbed Inglewood Basketball & Entertainment Complex, would allow the Clippers to separate from the Lakers and the Staples Center, where they currently play. The new stadium will also include the Clippers’ corporate headquarters, training facilities, sports medicine clinic, educational spaces and restaurants.
Uplift Inglewood Coalition filed its lawsuit against the city last summer after Inglewood officials approved Ballmer’s plan with construction expected to start in 2021 and take three years to complete. In their suit, they argue that the land should be used for affordable housing exclusively.
In a statement, Uplift Inglewood member D’Artagnan Scorza called Ballmer’s $100 million commitment a “victory,” but added that the group’s efforts “don’t stop here.” The lawsuit is ongoing, and the case could be headed to trial in November.
Meanwhile, New York Knicks owner James Dolan and his Madison Square Garden Company also sued the city and the Clippers franchise, but for a different reason.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Ballmer was handing the city a check for $100 million.