Steve Ballmer prevails as deal struck to buy The Forum



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The Forum Club - Los Angeles Image: MSG

The American professional basketball team Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has struck a deal with the multipurpose indoor arena in New York City – Madison Square Garden (MSG) – to buy The Forum for $400 million in cash, the team announced on Tuesday.

The deal clears the path for the construction of a new Clippers arena. CAPPS LLC, which was formed by Los Angeles Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer and Vice-Chairman Dennis Wong, acquired The Forum from MSG which owned the same.

The ‘Coliseum’ had carried a report on March 12, 2020, under the title – ‘Will Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer have the last laugh?’ – wherein it was mentioned that Ballmer was in “advanced negotiations” with MSG to purchase The Forum, a multipurpose venue located in Inglewood, California.

Ballmer has indeed had the last laugh with this deal as it completes a major hurdle in the Clippers’ effort to construct a new arena in Inglewood, California, something Ballmer has pushed for since he purchased the team for $2 billion in 2014.

“This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future. We are committed to our investment in the City of Inglewood, which will be good for the community, the Clippers, and our fans,” Ballmer said in a statement.

“The Clippers continue to pursue plans to build a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat basketball arena and entertainment complex in Inglewood and are currently working with the city to successfully complete the comprehensive Environmental Impact Report,” his statement further read.

“We are examining every possible way to resolve our differences with Madison Square Garden Co. regarding our new arena,” the statement added.

MSG acquired The Forum – a multipurpose indoor arena in Inglewood, US – in 2012, but it has been mired in legal battles in recent years, namely as it relates to the Clippers building a new stadium nearby.

In 2017, Los Angeles agreed to a deal with the city in hopes of developing an arena complex just south of the Rams’ new stadium (under-construction SoFi Stadium).

The deal will also pave the way to bury the hatchet as regards litigation brought by MSG, which attempted to block the Clippers’ proposed privately funded arena. The resolution of outstanding litigation was a condition of the sale, league sources said.

As per the official release, The Forum will continue to run as a music venue until a new Clippers arena comes up. As per the agreement, current Forum employees will be given employment offers by the new owner.

A National Basketball Association (NBA) team hasn’t regularly played in The Forum since 1999, when the American professional basketball team Los Angeles Lakers moved to Staples Center. The Los Angeles Sparks (another American professional basketball team) played in The Forum from 1997 until 2001, when they also moved to Staples Center.

The arena will fit in up to 18,000 people and serve as the team headquarters complex and community center. The project is expected to generate 7,500 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs once the complex opens.

A press release sent out stated that The Forum and the arena will fall under the same ownership and allow for “coordinated programing” between the venues.

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter and has cleared the biggest obstacle in the franchise’s way of building a new arena in the area.

Earlier, MSG, which also owns the New York Knicks, was entangled in a bitter legal battle with the city of Inglewood and Ballmer over building the new arena in close proximity to the Forum. James Dolan, MSG’s Executive Chairman and CEO, alleged that Inglewood violated an agreement not to allow competition to The Forum in such close proximity by working with the Clippers on a new arena.

MSG also argued that the city deceived MSG by convincing it to part with nearby land for the development of a technology park that was ultimately sold to Ballmer. There were several lawsuits, including two by community groups, attempting to block the construction of the arena.

A press release stated, “By reaching an agreement with MSG, CAPSS LLC will acquire the Inglewood venue, simultaneously resolving litigation surrounding plans for the new NBA arena.”

The purchase of The Forum remains subject to closing conditions but is expected to close during the second calendar quarter of 2020.

Presently, the arena project is undergoing an environmental review by Inglewood, and public hearings to green light the arena are expected to be held later this summer, as per the Clippers.

The team also said that owning both the Forum and a new arena will help streamline traffic congestion.

The Clippers also said they have proposed a $100 million package of community benefits.

The team also said MSG’s current Forum employees “will be extended employment offers by the new owner” as part of the pact.

Finally, after years of lawsuits and negotiations, Los Angeles Clippers owner Ballmer cleared the way for his long-cherished new arena.

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