LOS ANGELES – Steve Ballmer would love to hear no more speculation about whether the Clippers might someday head north.
“Obviously, we’re not going to move the team to Seattle,” the Clippers owner said Thursday in an interview with Beat reporters at the team’s offices in downtown L.A. — the new, privately funded, $1.8 billion, state. Friday’s groundbreaking eve for the off-the-art Intuit Dome in Inglewood, where their Clippers are due to start playing home games in 2024.
“I don’t know if anyone will bring it up again,” Ballmer said. “I hope not.”
Intuit will own the naming rights to the arena, a 23-year partnership agreed with the Clippers to begin now, as construction begins on the approximately 18,000-seat venue and surrounding training facility, team office space, medical clinic and outdoor plaza. Is. Retail, food and a basketball court.
“Steve wanted a brand he admired, that valued innovation, that cared about customers,” said Gillian Zucker, Clippers President of Business Operations.
“He wanted a brand that cared about the community … and a brand that went well with our colors.”
Ballmer said the location of the new arena — along Century Boulevard near Prairie Avenue, across the street from Sophie Stadium, which houses the NFL’s Rams and Chargers — is also desired.
Acquiring it was delayed, mainly due to legal disputes with The Forum’s former owners – a conflict that ended when Ballmer bought the iconic concert venue for $400 million.
“I really wanted to be west of 110 (the freeway), south of 10 and north of 105 — and there aren’t a lot of places,” Ballmer said. “We saw a few places that were outside and I think people would have said, ‘Well, if we’re playing at Carson you’re not really in L.A. anymore. I think people rave about those things. Think differently. Especially for basketball, when you have 41 home games instead of having eight.”
And LA is the place to pursue a serious basketball championship, Ballmer believes.
“If you want to be the most competitive, this is the best market in the world to get a free agent,” he said, reflecting on the prospects for his team after reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time last season. , both this upcoming season (without injured star Kawhi Leonard), and then.
“I see no reason why we shouldn’t have a good team.”
Once they move into their gleaming new digs, the Clippers, schedule-wise, won’t be hurt by a third-place finish at the Staples Center where they’ve played since it opened in 1999, but Including the Kings of the NHL. , Lakers of the NBA and Sparks of the WNBA.
“I knew we were the third tenant, I didn’t really know what that meant from a schedule perspective,” Ballmer said. “I didn’t think about it when I bought the team and then you play more than 12:30 Saturday afternoon games and it’s hard to get fans into the building. You play Monday night against ‘Monday Night Football’ It’s hard to get fans into the building. You’re not on Friday night, which is a good night.”
This may change in 2024-25 when the Clippers make their building debut, which will be highlighted by the seating arrangement, a section of 51 uninterrupted rows of seats that seat approximately 5,000 fans, in an effort to create a “wall” of sound. Is. Also: a two-sided “Halo Board,” an oval scoreboard with 7,000 square feet of LED lights that will hang on the court without blocking any sight lines.
Fans can look forward to no-checkout concessions (“tech-ready,” Zucker said) and being able to find a bathroom nearby, no matter where they are (the Clippers say 1,500 toilets are double the number per person). other NBA regions). It’s all designed to get fans back to their seats as quickly as possible, while enjoying good basketball.