The L.A. Clippers received final approval from Inglewood’s city government Tuesday to begin construction on their new facility. The team’s new arena, the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center (IBEC), is due to break ground in the summer of 2021 with hopes of opening to the public for the 2024-2025 NBA season.
The approval includes plans for an 18,000-seat basketball arena, team practice facility and corporate offices for the L.A. Clippers.
The Clippers have represented Los Angeles for decades but tend to take a backseat to the L.A. Lakers. Clipper fans, like USC sophomore Cooper Hatwan, hope that the new arena will change that.
“Even though I don’t want the Clippers to move from Staples [Center], hopefully the new stadium will create a bigger and better fan base for the Clippers,” Hatwan said. “They have always been in the shadow of the Lakers at Staples [Center] because of how successful the Lakers have been throughout the years, so hopefully the new stadium will give the Clippers a fresh start.”
Eden Burkow, a USC senior and lifelong Clippers fan, spent her junior year working for the team’s communications department and hopes a new arena will help give the team its own identity.
“They are not just going to be secondary to the Staples Center, but they are now going to be the kings of their own castle,” Burkow said. “I look forward to seeing all the purposes of the stadium and what it will offer not just to the team but also Los Angeles.”
However, not all L.A. locals and Clippers fans are excited about what new development will bring to the city. Inglewood resident Eddie Cruz has spoken out against the development, fearing the development will negatively impact his community.
“I have an almost hostile feeling towards the development,” Cruz said. “The cost of living is going to skyrocket and most of the time it’s people who have been affected for many years who are going to feel the repercussions and displaced by the gentrification that is to come soon. There are unions in Inglewood fighting for people who are being evicted or harassed by their landlord. I want people to know that the people of Inglewood are suffering, our voices aren’t being heard and ultimately we are going to be the ones to suffer from the gentrification.”
The construction of the IBEC is expected to hire up to 30% of local employees and aims to generate more than 7,000 full and part-time construction jobs.
In an official statement by the Clippers, the team detailed how “The Clippers' one-of-a-kind basketball arena provides the City of Inglewood with the largest community benefits package ever connected to a sports venue at $100 million.”
While perspectives on the construction are varied, there is no contest of the benefits the expansion will have for the team. USC Sports, Business and Media professor Jeff Fellenzer expects the new facility to equally aid the Clippers franchise’s growth.
“It’s coming at a great time because it’s a time when they are a championship contender,” Fellenzer said. “If they re-sign Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they should be for the next few years.”
Kawhi Leonard is averaging 29.8 points and Paul George 20 in the NBA playoffs.
Leonard and George’s contracts align to allow the two to become free agents in 2021. If the Clippers re-sign them, Leonard and George could lead the Clippers to the playoffs in the new Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center stadium come 2024.