Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in advanced negotiations to buy The Forum in Inglewood, California, from the Madison Square Garden Company, according to multiple reports.
The acquisition would clear a major hurdle in the National Basketball Association team’s efforts to build a new 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex in the area.
The Clippers have been tenants at the AEG-owned Staples Center, which they share with the Los Angeles Lakers and the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings, since 1999. In 2013, team signed a 10-year extension of the lease to keep them at the venue until 2024.
The Forum, which opened in 1967, was the prior home of the Lakers and Kings prior to the opening of Staples Center. Though outdated, the venue has since remained active as a venue for music and entertainment events, and other sports competitions, particularly in combat sports.
Ballmer, the former chief executive of Microsoft, has repeatedly expressed his desire for the Clippers to have their own modern arena in Inglewood. It is hoped the team can break ground on the new arena, which would be based on mostly vacant land under the flight path of Los Angeles International Airport, by 2021. The site is also very close to the forthcoming SoFi Stadium.
However, Ballmer’s attempts to build the facility have led to multiple lawsuits, including three from Forum owner MSG, which owns numerous venues and sports teams including the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
“The other side is just trying to slow us down a little bit,” Ballmer said of the dispute with MSG last September. “But it’s another thing where we’re grinders. We’re long-term players, and we’re grinders.”