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Clippers close deal to purchase Forum from MSG

The Forum in Inglewood
The Forum in Inglewood underwent renovation more than six years ago and reopened as a concert venue under the Madison Square Garden Co.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Ownership of the Forum has formally changed hands, removing an obstacle in the way of the Clippers constructing their own arena nearby. A group controlled by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer completed its purchase of the Forum from Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. on Monday.

The close of escrow came six weeks after Ballmer-backed CAPSS LLC announced it had agreed to pay $400 million in cash not only for the arena, but also to resolve all litigation related to MSG’s fight to block a new Clippers arena in Inglewood.

Renovations by MSG reconfigured the Forum, the former home of the Lakers and Kings, into a music-only venue. CAPSS LLC will continue to operate the Forum for music and entertainment only, using a new entity, Forum Entertainment LLC. According to the new ownership, Geni Lincoln and Mike Fallon, who ran the building’s operations under MSG, will continue in those roles while reporting to Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations.

The Clippers have proposed building an 18,000-seat arena, paid for by Ballmer at a cost of more than $1 billion, in time for the 2024-25 NBA season along Inglewood’s West Century Boulevard, directly across from SoFi Stadium, the soon-to-be new home of the Rams and Chargers. The arena would be part of a larger footprint dubbed by developers as the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Complex, where the team’s business and basketball operations would be centralized in one location.

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Since the Clippers announced their intention to build a new arena three years ago, MSG had fiercely fought to block the project. MSG, whose executive chairman is Knicks owner James Dolan, had spearheaded three lawsuits against the project and paid the legal fees of a community group that had one suit pending and another it was appealing.

By resolving those suits, the Clippers hope to begin construction on their new complex by mid-2021. The team’s lease at Staples Center, where they have played since 1999, ends in 2024.

The Clippers became NBA championship contenders with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but after this season, if there is one, some key players could leave.

Inglewood’s City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement to retain a company to appraise 65 city-controlled parcels and 10 privately-owned parcels that could be used for the arena and related development. Murphy’s Bowl LLC, the Clippers-controlled company behind the project, will pay for the appraisal and eventually acquire the land.

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At the time of its March announcement, CAPSS said it planned to extend employment offers to all Forum employees. Those offers have been made and all full-time employees have since accepted, a team spokesman said.

How soon the new ownership will be able to hold its first event is unknown, as large gatherings have been banned amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But in recent weeks, the Forum’s parking lot had found new use, as a COVID-19 testing site.

Staff writer Nathan Fenno contributed to this report.


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