Clippers give their best shot for new arena


Los Angeles Clippers new arena - August 2020 Image: LA Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers has engaged the services of reputed talent and sports agency CAA Sports to sell the naming rights for its new arenaInglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center in US – some four years before it is set to go on stream.

Creative Artists Agency LLC or CAA is an American talent and sports agency based in Los Angeles, California. It is regarded as a dominant and influential company in the talent agency business and manages numerous clients.

The Los Angeles Clippers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, US. The Clippers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Pacific Division in the league’s Western Conference. The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center is a proposed 18,000 seat arena to be located in Inglewood, California, for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Presently, though the arena is titled the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, but the Clippers are depending on CAA to change that. Steve Ballmer is pulling out all stops to make sure their new Inglewood Arena will be the pièce de résistance in sports.

The NBA team has retained the division of CAA – which brought JPMorgan Chase to American professional basketball team Golden State Warriors’ residence Chase Center (San Francisco, US) in 2016 on a 20-year deal thought to be worth up to $20m per year – to secure a partner before work begins on the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center next year.

“We are thrilled to partner with CAA on this endeavor, as we work together to identify a corporate partner who shares our values and embraces our vision for what this campus will mean to the Clippers community. We have set an ambitious goal to provide disproportionate value to a naming rights partner by having them in-place before a shovel hits the ground in Inglewood,” remarked Gillian Zucker, Clippers’ President, Business.

“This aggressive timing will provide a unique opportunity to incorporate our partner’s brand into the design of the construction and deliver their own personal touch to this amazing facility,” Zucker added.

Paul Danforth, CAA Board Member and President, CAA Sports, acknowledged the Clippers expect a record-breaking deal for the 18,500-seat arena, which forms part of a privately financed project that also includes a full-time corporate Clippers headquarters building, the team’s training facility, a sports medicine clinic, community courts, park spaces, educational facilities, restaurants and shops.

“We’ll do our best to achieve that [record-breaking deal], but they also want the right partner who is going to grow with them and shares similar values,” Danforth told mediapersons.

Sitting just south of Hollywood Park, home of the new SoFi Stadium, Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center is a public-private partnership between Murphy’s Bowl LLC, a Clippers-controlled company, and the City of Inglewood. It is expected to consume $1bn.

Murphy’s Bowl hopes to get going on the development by mid-2021, with the arena projected to open in time for the 2024-25 NBA season. The Clippers’ lease at Staples Center, its current home facility, is due to expire in 2024.

The privately-funded arena will include 18,000 seats. The Clippers state it will be “uniquely designed to prioritize fan comfort and ease, player experience, home-court advantage, and community.”

The project is being developed by Wilson Meany, with the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center designed by engineering company AECOM. The complex is expected to bring in the moolah for Inglewood and is likely to generate an estimated $268m in economic activity for Inglewood annually, and more than $190m in new tax revenue from 2020-2045.

Former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers in 2014 for $2bn and recently acquired the Forum venue in Inglewood from American sports holding company MSG for $400m to stave off legal battles over the development of IBEC.

The Clippers believe the arena will provide “the City of Inglewood with the largest community benefits package ever connected to a sports venue.”

Danforth added, “We are proud to work alongside the visionary ownership and management team of the LA Clippers, to bring to market the naming rights for their new arena in the City of Inglewood. Steve’s vision for ‘the best home in all of sports,’ combined with the dynamic Clippers franchise and explosive growth of the NBA worldwide, makes this a singular opportunity for a marketer to plant its flag in the sand in the vibrant capital of sports, media, and entertainment.”

Danforth stated that the partnership began after they had just completed the Chase Center project with the Golden State Warriors, “We had incredible success there. As soon as the project wrapped up, Gillian and I got together to discuss their plans for a new building. She asked if we would be interested in partnering on it. We got together with me, her, Dennis, and Steve to really talk about our approach. We couldn’t be more excited to work with a dynamic ownership group, a great management team, and the very first home of the Clippers. Finally they’ll have a home of their own, and it’s going to be in LA.”

Talking about the naming rights, he informed, “It will be the overall naming rights of the facility. Then there will be a number of other partnerships that include potentially naming the practice facility on campus, another basketball court that’s located outside, and a number of unique clubs. We’ll do commercial partnerships for a number of projects.”

As far as the design is concerned, the top shot remarked, “It is pretty awesome. It’s going to be a dynamic facility with all the bells and whistles. Wide seats, lots of concessions, lots of bathroom, there’s one cool end of the arena that’s hopefully going to give a significant home court advantage. There’s going to be some real cool designs.”

He added that it was going to be different from all the projects that his company has worked on – “This is going to be very different than anything that we’ve worked on to tell the truth. Everything from the configuration of the bowl, to other cool features. There are very unique features that have never been seen in an NBA arena before.”

Danforth informed that the whole process will start rolling immediately “Which will go through talking to everyone, from current partners to future prospects all around the world. Our goal is to have the name prior to groundbreaking in summer of 2021. We’re going to work together until the building is open. There’s going to be partnerships throughout the building and the campus. Generally, a project like this will take three to four years in terms of engagement.”

By next year, fans will at least know the name of their new home.

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