Basketball Billionaires Feuding Over $1 Billion Arena in Inglewood

Steve Ballmer and James Dolan are involved in litigation over a new arena for the Clippers

Basketball Billionaires Feuding Over $1 Billion Arena in Inglewood
New York Knicks owner James Dolan. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty)
By Evan Bleier / November 19, 2019 9:53 am

Though James Dolan can’t win on the basketball court, he’s hoping to defeat another NBA owner in the courtroom.

Dolan, whose Madison Square Garden Co. owns the New York Knicks, is engaged in litigation with Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer over a piece of real estate in Inglewood that the ex-Microsoft chief wants to build a new arena for his basketball team on. 

Dolan’s company used to own parking lots on the land which served MSG Co.’s music venue, the Forum, which opened five years ago. However, the company sold the land back to the city.

Now, Dolan’s group is claiming Inglewood secretly cut a deal with the Clippers to sell them the land for the arena, a move MSG Co. opposes because Ballmer’s arena could host musical acts on nights when there’s no basketball which would take business away from the Forum. 

MSG Co. has filed a lawsuit against Inglewood which then Clippers have since joined on the city’s side, alleging dirty tactics by Dolan and his company. “The Clippers say Madison Square Garden has helped underwrite a legal attack on the Inglewood arena by housing rights advocates and even schemed to get a key witness to change her testimony about what the city’s mayor told MSG to clinch the parking lot deal,” according to Bloomberg

In an interview with The LA TimesBallmer said the Clippers “are going to open that arena one way or another.

“We’re on a path where we think we can build the arena, whatever happens in the litigation,” Ballmer said. “We’re moving along. Certainly, suffice it to say, I think the other side is just trying to slow us down a little bit. But it’s another thing where we’re grinders. We’re long-term players, and we’re grinders. You want to hit us in the nose? OK! We’ll keep moving. You can’t knock us down. I’m not sure they understand what they’ve gotten themselves into, from my perspective, in the sense that we’ll just keep going.”

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