The Inglewood City Council has voted to approve a controversial plan from the Los Angeles Clippers to redevelop 28 acres of land with a new sports and entertainment complex.

The centerpiece of the $1.2-billion project, slated for a series of properties at the intersection of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, is a proposed 18,000-seat NBA arena.  Other components of the project include:

  • an 85,000-square-foot practice and athletic training facility;
  • 71,000 square feet of office space for the Clippers organization;
  • a 25,000-square-foot sports medicine clinic;
  • 63,000 square feet of ancillary retail;
  • a public plaza featuring a large LED screen, a concert stage, and basketball courts;
  • a 150-room hotel; and
  • parking for 4,125 vehicles.

The AECOM-designed arena would rise approximately 150 feet in height.  Renderings depict an elliptical-shaped structure with a grid-like exterior and numerous carve-outs used to create open-air decks.

Wilson Meany, which is developing the project on behalf of the Clippers, estimates that the project will create 7,000 full and part-time jobs during the course of construction and 1,500 permanent jobs upon completion.

The arena is scheduled to break ground in Summer 2021 and open in time for the 2024-2025 NBA Season, when the Clippers' lease at Staples Center is scheduled to expire.

The approval by the Inglewood City Council represents a significant milestone for a project that had previously faced well-capitalized opposition in the form of the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which formerly owned the historic Forum arena two miles north along Prairie Avenue.  MSG had sued to block construction of the project, alleging that Inglewood Mayor James Butts had tricked them into giving up a ground lease for the property now slated for the arena based to allow for the development of an office park.  Clippers owner Steve Ballmer resolved the organization's dispute with MSG in March by purchasing the Forum for $400 million - a significant markup from the $23.5 million sum that the arena sold for in 2012.

The proposed Clippers arena, which followed closely on the heels of the development of an NFL stadium and entertainment district at the former Hollywood Park site, has also sparked concerns of gentrification in Inglewood, potentially displacing residents near both sports venues.

Ballmer, in an effort to address some of the criticism leveled at the project, has proposed a $100-million community benefits packaged which would provide funding for affordable housing development and preservation, as well as a homeowner and rental assistance program, and other community projects.

Skeptics have also seized upon certain items from the arena's environmental impact report, specifically a claim that the project will result in a reduction in air pollution and traffic congestion.  A letter authored in June 2019 by State Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, Laura Friedman, Cristina Garcia, and Kevin McCarty argued that the project will in fact result in increased traffic and air pollution relative to the current Clippers arena - Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles.

Inglewood officials have attempted to connect the arena site to Metro's Crenshaw/LAX Line with an automated people mover system.  The 1.6-mile elevated transit system would cost more than $1 billion, and is currently expected to begin service in 2026.