In a historic event in LA on Friday, the Los Angeles Clippers began breaking ground on their new arena. The arena will be ten miles southwest of their current home, the Staples Center, which they currently share with the Lakers.
The arena will be named the “Intuit Dome” in Inglewood. Clippers star Paul George is excited about the new dig. The California native had this to say at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“This is no hockey arena, it’s where basketball is played and watched on five different courts. Where concerts are sung and heard with perfect pitch, it’s for the ballers.”
If You Build It The Fans Will Come
Intuit, which will have naming rights to the new edifice for 23 years, is a global technology platform that makes accounting software for TurboTax and Quickbooks, among other products. The nearly $2 billion dollar basketball and concert venue will have room for 18,000 screaming Clippers fans.
It will also go a long way toward the Clippers — known as the stepchild franchise in Tinseltown — building their own culture and emerging out of the shadows of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Having to share an arena with the No. 1 franchise in basketball has been an albatross around the neck and good fortunes of Clippers fans.
The new arena officially marks the beginning of the Clippers’ independence and building a strong, loyal fan base in Los Angeles.
ICYMI: On Friday, the @LAClippers held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new arena in Inglewood. The $1.8B privately-funded stadium will be called the @IntuitDome and is set to open by the 2024-25 season. @KelliJohnsonTV reports: https://t.co/hZEQ4TbFQt pic.twitter.com/PJbbrPMf1g
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) September 18, 2021
Changing Clippers Culture
Once called “The worst franchise in sports,” if everything goes according to plan, the Clippers will enter a new arena with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The super tandem has player contracts through the 2024-25 season. Having two perennial All-Stars to market with that new arena is important.
The Clippers moved into Staples Center in 1999. The franchise has had many losing seasons over the years, been the butt of jokes and suffered through the embarrassing Donald Sterling situation.
A new franchise identity began to emerge in 2011 and the Clippers eventually became contenders under Doc Rivers and Chris Paul.
Over the past three seasons the Clippers are third overall in combined regular-season and playoff victories.
Gillian Zucker, Clippers president of business operations, mentioned that the groundbreaking comes seven years after she went driving around L.A. with Clippers ownership looking at potential sites for the new arena.
“Today there is a construction site at the corner of Center and Prairie,” she said. “But tomorrow is a global destination for basketball fans, music lovers … and anyone who’s ever been moved to stand among 18,000 voices that echo as one.”
Steve Ballmer’s New Baby
Zucker was quick to credit Clippers owner Steve Ballmer with the revolutionary concepts that fans will see when they enter the dome. Zucker said Ballmer also picked and planned everything from the “comfort level of the seats to the revolutionary two-sided halo scoreboard to be lit by a full acre of LED lighting which encircles the top of the bowl.”
The goal is to have an arena where fans never want to leave, a place with enough food and restaurant options to keep lines short so that fans will never miss pivotal game moments.
“We wanted to build a home that is our own, that sets a standard for us,” Ballmer said. “We don’t want to play in anyone else’s shadow. We want to redefine how sports are watched, how we listen to music, how we cheer for our favorite performer.”
A New Fan Experience: Welcome Home
The Clippers’ goal when building the new arena was to make it more accommodating to people of all ages. So in addition to the primary dome for games and performances on the lot, Intuit Dome will also feature an 80,000-square-foot outdoor plaza.
The Clippers envision their younger fans will play pickup games on their own regulation-size court while watching the live games on a massive outdoor screen. Sort of like what we experience at Jurassic Park (Raptors) and Fiserv Forum (Bucks) when 40,000 to 50,000 fans are packed outside the arena and having a live watch party.
The unveiling, rich with performers and bells and whistles, did nothing for Kawhi Leonard, who was his usual stoic self.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 17, 2021
But the organization has its new home, a committed owner, the hottest new entertainment venue in California, and lots of potential for success. They just have to find an artist he actually likes.
Celebrating The Basketball Community
The arena will also have a jersey from every high school team in the state hanging on its walls as a way to pay homage to the place where so many NBA players first discovered their passion for the game of basketball.
Inglewood used to also be home to the Los Angeles Lakers at the Great Western Forum. The Clippers chose that location because of the positive financial impact Ballmer believes his business empire, including the Clippers, could have on the surrounding community.