Coming out of a playoff defeat at the hands of the dynastic Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers turn their eyes to a battle taking place off the court.
As the Clippers’ current lease with Anschutz Entertainment Group at STAPLES Center nears its expiration at the end of the 2023-24 NBA season, the team has made strides to establish a new arena in the city of Inglewood. However, the Clippers and Inglewood Mayor James Butts have been met with stern backlash from those well-established in the area.
Starting in June 2017, the Clippers partnered with Mayor Butts to explore 22 acres of vacant, city-owned land near the intersection of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue. In passing months, their initiative gained momentum after undergoing necessary permit and environmental processes and began working on preliminary exterior designs.
While the vision has started to come together for those hopeful to bring professional basketball back to Inglewood for the first time since 1999, some local residents believe in a different idea — #HomesBeforeArenas.
When the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers announced their moves to the city in 2015, the Uplift Inglewood Coalition made it their mission to oppose the rising cost of living.
On April 26, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ruled that the coalition could move forward with its lawsuit, which alleged that the city of Inglewood violated the California Surplus Land Act by not giving first priority to affordable housing development when selling the public land.
However, as Inglewood residents can already see with the under-construction LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, this battle is a lost cause. Turning their focus toward claiming the vacant lot across the street being eyed by the Clippers won’t stop an ongoing gentrification development that’s been happening over the years in low socioeconomic areas throughout Southern California.
With events such as the Super Bowl LVI in 2022 and the Olympic Games in 2028, which are scheduled to take place in Inglewood’s future entertainment district, replacing the Clippers’ new arena with housing still wouldn’t change the fact that more traffic and air pollution is something that city officials have signed up for.
Ultimately, the development of this new arena should be viewed as a good thing.
For one, the lot being looked at has not only been vacant for over 20 years, but sits directly under the flight path of LAX. Not only has this been the reason why no housing or churches have been built here in the past, but it’s the reason why eminent domain isn’t a factor in this situation.
Additionally, the arena and its accompanying facilities will be 100% privately financed by the richest owner in professional sports, Steve Ballmer. This means that no taxpayer dollars will be spent while generating hundreds of local well-paying jobs.
It’s also worth mentioning the work in the community that the Ballmer and the Clippers have done in past year alone for LA. By 2021, they will have renovated all 343 basketball courts in the city, including a couple that I’ve personally seen already done in Northeast Los Angeles.
The substantial tax revenue made by the Clippers’ new arena could be used to help improve Inglewood schools, parks, libraries, and police and fire services.
While the lack of affordable housing remains to be a real issue in the city of Inglewood, moving the Clippers here should be welcomed, rather than seen as part of the problem.