The Los Angeles Clippers have been joined at the hip with the Los Angeles Lakers for quite some time.
The two organizations have shared Staples Center since 1999 and have a current lease that runs through 2024.
However, the two franchises couldn’t be more different based on not only current makeup, but also from a historical perspective. After being the laughingstock of the league, the Clippers have been a perennial playoff team over the last handful of seasons, but have never won a single NBA title. Meanwhile, the rebuilding Lakers have won 16 NBA titles, which ranks just one behind the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history.
Outspoken Clippers owner Steve Ballmer announced that his franchise will be breaking its bond with the Lakers as they are planning to build a Inglewood arena.
"We are expanding that investment by entering into an agreement to explore an opportunity to build a new arena for the Clippers in the City of Inglewood," Ballmer said in a statement on Thursday. "I have said from day one that we need to plan for the future. This agreement helps us do that by expanding our options.”
He continued, ”The prospect of a new state-of-the-art NBA arena would allow us greater latitude to influence our game schedule, particularly as it relates to weekend games that are so important to our fans. We also want to offer our fans premium experiences in terms of technology, club spaces and other amenities; that’s easier to realize in a new arena.”
However, the most important (and impressive) part of the proposed project is that it will be completely privately funded by the owner himself.
"This new arena would be 100 percent privately funded. No public dollars would be used for this project,” Ballmer, who has a net worth of $32 billion confirmed.
Interestingly, the new Clippers arena will be directly adjacent to the NFL stadium being build by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke. That stadium is set to open in 2020, four years before the Clippers’ lease runs out. Therefore, a lot of construction is slated to take place.
"During the upcoming planning process, the Clippers and the City of Inglewood will work diligently together to evaluate this project in great detail," Ballmer stated. "Regardless of where the Clippers take the court after 2024, I remain committed to helping the great city of Los Angeles and its citizens thrive. We look forward to sharing our progress as we continue along our journey to deliver championship results for our fans and the entire Los Angeles region."
While the Lakers have quite a legacy to boast, Ballmer is attempting to lead the Clippers to an exciting and prosperous future. Separating themselves from their in-city rivals is the first step in establishing and formulating their own culture.