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Inglewood will vote on deal for Clippers to explore new arena

As round-the-clock construction continues on the $2.6-billion stadium for the Rams and Chargers in Inglewood, the resurgent city is moving toward adding another team.

Inglewood's City Council will vote Thursday on an exclusive negotiating agreement for a Clippers-controlled company to build an arena for the team, according to a copy of the document.

The 22 acres for the arena are across the street from the 298-acre site where Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building the stadium as part of a sprawling mixed-use development.

The Rams aren't involved in the Clippers' arena project, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, though representatives of Kroenke and the Clippers had multiple discussions about the team joining the Rams’ project that’s scheduled to be completed in 2020 or building on an adjacent parcel.

The agreement between the Clippers-controlled company, Murphy’s Bowl LLC, and Inglewood will run for 36 months with the option for a single six-month extension. That gives the team time to complete lengthy environmental reviews. The city will receive a nonrefundable deposit of $1.5 million to defray costs associated with the effort.

But this doesn’t mean the Clippers are leaving Staples Center for Inglewood.

Two people familiar with the situation told The Times that the Clippers and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns Staples Center, continue to renegotiate the deal for the team to remain in the arena that has been home since 1999.

The Clippers, who declined to comment, have a lease to play in Staples Center through 2024. An AEG spokesman said the company wasn't aware of the pending agreement with Inglewood.

AEG previously lost out on L.A.’s long-running search for an NFL team. The company ended its planned downtown stadium in 2015 after Kroenke announced his stadium plan and the Chargers and Raiders unveiled a rival — and ultimately unsuccessful — concept in Carson. Losing a key tenant at Staples Center that fills dozens of nights every year would be another blow.

But billionaire Clippers owner Steve Ballmer hasn’t hidden his desire for a new arena since purchasing the team for $2 billion in 2014. He would pay for the entire project in Inglewood, according to a person close to him. Kroenke is also privately financing his stadium.

If the arena moves forward, the Clippers would purchase the land — bounded by Century Avenue to the north and Yukon Avenue to the east — from the city, the Inglewood Successor Agency and third parties. The land is currently occupied by an assortment of businesses including a storage company, auto detailing shop and motel.

The agreement doesn’t disclose how much the Clippers would pay Inglewood for their land. And it tiptoes around the third parties who would need to sell their land in order for the stadium to move ahead, describing them as “potential participating parcels” and broaching the possibility of "eminent domain proceedings." Those parcels make up around half of the site, according to a map attached to the agreement.

The team will be required to present initial renderings of the arena within 180 days of the agreement’s approval. The agreement calls for an 18,000- to 20,000-seat arena that is “state of the art” and includes on-site parking.

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. didn’t return a request for comment.

The Clippers have flirted with other locations, including the Santa Monica airport, but were always likely to try to strike a deal whenever the NFL landed, according to a source familiar with the team's thinking.

Ballmer’s fingerprints are on the 21-page document that could upend the professional sports landscape in L.A. The document directs correspondence for Murphy’s Bowl LLC be copied to SPI Holdings in San Francisco to the attention of Dennis J. Wong.

Wong, Ballmer’s college roommate, joined the Clippers as a minority owner in January 2016. He is managing director of SPI Holdings and helped advise Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob on the team’s arena project in San Francisco.

Ballmer wants an arena of his own to innovate, improve the fan experience and not get the third pick of dates, like the Clippers currently do at Staples behind the Lakers and Kings.

During a conference in Manhattan Beach last fall, Ballmer promised progress on an arena.

“We’re going to have real options,” he said.

Times staff writers Broderick Turner and Dan Woike contributed to this report.

nathan.fenno@latimes.com

Twitter: @nathanfenno

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