In just over two-and-a-half-years, the Clippers will have Intuit Dome — an arena of their own, for fans to love and grow up with.
The Los Angeles Clippers have never really had a modern home of their own in LA. But as media went west for the Super Bowl, which will be played Sunday in Inglewood at SoFi Stadium, the Clips showed off their progress on Intuit Dome, their own 18,000-seat arena that is slated to open for the 2024-25 season.
As Inglewood, which was the Lakers’ longtime home at the Forum, looks to revive itself as a premier sports destination, Clippers governor Steve Ballmer’s vision has started to take shape. Media donned hard hats and construction vests on Wednesday to see what was going on and to hear from COO Alex Diaz and Los Angeles legend Jerry West.
First, Diaz laid out the nuts and bolts of how the project is going, five months after the arena’s ground-breaking.
- The arena’s excavation process is complete. Currently, there’s a massive 35-foot hole in the ground with markers indicating where the court will be and small baskets where the baskets will be. Media looked on from the future site of the main concourse.
- More than 300 people have worked on construction to date under a joint project between AECOM Hunt and Turner Construction.
- In addition to serving as the Clippers’ home arena, Intuit Dome will also house the Clippers’ 86,000 square foot training center, practice facility and team offices.
- Diaz said that Intuit Dome will have more leg room than any other NBA venue and will bring fans closer to the action. He added that a seat in the 20th row at Intuit Dome will bring fans 45 feet closer to the court than a current 20th row seat at Crypto.com Arena.
- There will also be a section of Intuit Dome called The Wall, a first-of-its-kind section in basketball with 51 uninterrupted rows comprising more than 5,000 seats. Perhaps it will look similar to a supporters’ section in soccer stadiums.
- Over the next six months, 400 workers will erect more than 5,500 tons of steel and over 40,000 cubic yards of concrete.
West heaped praise on Ballmer, calling him one of the most unique men he’s ever met.
“He is a visionary, and his vision when he bought this team was to make sure the Clippers would have a facility where we weren’t the third tenant,” West said.
Ballmer purchased the Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion after the Donald Sterling scandal. In less than eight years, that value has soared to $3.3 billion, according to Forbes, making them the sixth-most valuable NBA franchise. That value will likely grow much higher once Intuit Dome is complete.
But West’s point about the Clippers’ tenancy is an extremely important one.
For more than 20 years at Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena), the Clippers have always had the third choice in picking home dates, behind the Lakers and Los Angeles Kings. According to West, that’s meant the most difficult schedule for the Clips in terms of travel and hours spent on the road because they always get the short end on dates and times. Having their own place, he said, would not only make the team more competitive but also help attract more star players.
Watching the construction brought West back to old memories of 1969, when the Lakers completed the Forum in Inglewood, where they won six championships. He said he used to go to the arena site just to watch it get built.
“I remember playing here in Inglewood for so many years,” West said. “When they finally said you’re moving to the Staples Center downtown, I really felt personally that a piece of my life was gone. This was home to me. And to be uprooted at that point in time, it was really not very much fun. I grew to love this place.”
In just over two-and-a-half-years, the Clippers will finally have a place of their own for their fans to love and grow up with.
“This should be a fantastic venue for everybody coming to watch.,” West said. “This facility, I think, will be the best basketball arena of all.”