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Clippers begin building 'own presence, identity' with long-awaited arena groundbreaking

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The Los Angeles Clippers are edging closer to their own home with a groundbreaking in Inglewood on Friday and an exclusive naming rights announcement

The Intuit Dome is scheduled to open in time for the 2024-25 season and will break the Clippers away from Staples Center, which they have shared with the Los Angeles Lakers since 1999. The WNBA's Sparks and NHL's Kings also play at Staples. 

Clippers building own identity with new arena

Franchise owner and chairman Steve Ballmer said the move is necessary for the Clippers to build their own "identity." Via ESPN:

"We needed to say, 'We're our own guys. We don't play in the same place as the other guys. We're going to have our own identity." 

Ballmer said historically the Clippers were bad enough they could be overlooked in town and he doesn't want that to continue as the franchise continues to compete for titles. 

"We're good now, and we're going to be good year in and year out. We're going to build our own building, more of our own identity, more of our own personality. And I think some of the fans on the other side, if you will, it's like, 'What? You dare to question our supremacy?' No, we do.

"There's 30 teams in the league. There's 29 others. And we got one that happens to be based in L.A. And we got our fans. We use our expression, 'L.A. Our Way.' And we're building our own presence, identity. And if the other guys feel a little threatened — the other guys' fans, I mean; the players are actually a little different deal — but if they feel a little threatened, that's OK. It means we're doing good."

The move will be four full seasons from now when stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have player options to stay another year. Despite being without Leonard due to a knee injury in the second round of the 2021 postseason, the Clippers reached their first Western Conference finals in franchise history. Leonard is expected to miss a large part of the 2021-22 season as he rehabs his ACL injury. 

Clippers new arena details 

The Forum
An aerial view shows The Forum in Inglewood, California, on May 9, 2019. The Clippers will build an arena nearby. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

The arena will cost Ballmer "upward of $2 billion," per ESPN. It's the same price Ballmer paid for the franchise in 2014. 

He purchased The Forum in Inglewood from The Madison Square Garden Company, run by New York Knicks team owner James Dolan, for $400 million in May 2020. The Forum opened in 1967 as a concert venue. The purchase allowed Ballmer to build an arena near The Forum. 

He has spent years studying arenas and stadiums across the country to decide how he wants to build his own space, per ESPN. There will be a section called "The Wall" with 51 uninterrupted rows of seats meant to be a dedicated supporters section, per the team release. The idea is pulled from the student section at Duke's Cameron Stadium. 

There will be a two-sided halo scoreboard with one acre of LED lighting and an 80,000-square-foot outdoor plaza that surrounds a full-size outdoor court, per the release. An outdoor court would provide the opportunity for three-on-three tournaments and competitions nearby. Three-on-three is growing around the world and got a boost from its inclusion at the Olympics. The U.S. men did not participate, while the women took home gold. 

Ballmer told ESPN there will be more legroom in seats than any other arena in the NBA so fans will enjoy staying in their seats. There will also be double the number of toilets (less standing in line away from the game) and no checkout lines at concession stands (everything will be ordered online from seats). 

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