LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has poured his heart, soul, and even his own money into making the Intuit Dome special. The innovative arena, the future home of the Clippers, opens this August in Inglewood.
This week, Super Bowl 2024 halftime show headliner Usher became the first artist to announce concerts at the Intuit Dome for his upcoming "Past, Present, Future" tour. The Grammy Award-winning artist initially announced two dates before two more were added based on popular demand.
As the weeks go by and the opening date becomes closer, there’s growing excitement around what will become a staple in Los Angeles County's South Bay region.
The former CEO of Microsoft opened up about the making and inspiration of the arena Thursday in an interview with Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament during the 2024 "Pollstar Live!" conference, which is an event created for live entertainment professionals across the globe. Ballmer and Ament were keynote speakers for the "Music, Basketball & the Intuit Dome" panel.
For Clipper Nation, having an arena of their own is a massive deal. Longtime fans have endured numerous heartbreaks through the years and knowing they’ll finally have their own arena outside a purple and gold shadow holds significant meaning.
"It’s a huge deal to get something of your own, especially when you never considered having it. You always had to share something," said longtime Clipper fan, Dwayne Logan, in a previous interview with FOX 11. "Being a Clipper fan, you think ‘we could lose this’ at the last minute, just like the game or a player."
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After the Denver Nuggets broke their curse last season by becoming NBA champions, the Clippers remain one of ten other teams in the league without a title. Other teams without the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy include the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, and Phoenix Suns.
On Thursday, Ballmer opened up about the making of the project close to his heart.
Read more from the panel discussion below.
Steve Ballmer's realistic comparison to the favored LA Lakers
"Let's face it, we're not the number one sports team at least playing in [the] Crypto.com [Arena]. And we have a very loyal, tough customer, our fan base, because of all the years in which the team has been less good. And it was quite clear that living in the shadow of anybody else wasn't going to work, because we wanted to be the preeminent team in the preeminent market in the world."
Steve Ballmer on experiences influencing the Intuit Dome’s design
"Let me start with basketball. I love music, but we built this place about basketball, and there's tons of things that have kind of influenced my thinking. I want energy, I want tightness. You know, if people come to the game and want to socialize, you know, in bars, I said, ‘we can take a point of view.’ We're about basketball, basketball, basketball. Keep it tight, keep it intense, keep the fans involved."
He also acknowledged that while the Clippers have won more games inside the Crypto.com Arena, often still referred to as Staples Center, the Lakers have been more successful.
"Look, the funny thing I'll tell you, is fact. Nobody knows. We played for 25 years in Staples Center. In 25 years, who will have won more games? Clippers? Lakers? [It’s] the Clippers. In the last 25 years, we have won more games. Our record at Staples is guaranteed. We will have beaten them over the last 20. They have the championships. We don't have championships and that's what it's about at the end of the day."
What does the arena do for Inglewood?
"[There are] a few things I'd like to highlight. First of all, we came to Inglewood. We searched and this was the best land. And we said, ‘great, we can be in the community.’ We will be one of the top couple or three taxpayers in the city of Inglewood. That's good for the city. We committed $100 million to what's called the Community Benefits Agreement to do affordable housing, a senior center and youth programs in Inglewood. We have five courts. We have two for the players to practice. We got the indoor, we got an outdoor court with a huge screen, two for fans, plus the game court. But we can open up those for community events, games, that sort of thing. If you look at what we're doing now from a construction perspective, over 15% of the business has been contracted to local businesses, which is above, or a little bit more above the target we had when we started out. If you look at the number of hours that are worked by local people in construction, it's about 30, just under 30%. So, we're trying to make sure we support local businesses. We support local people in getting trained and up to speed and support the community. We have a bunch of tickets that'll go to every game to kids from Inglewood. So those kinds of things for the community."
Ballmer: ‘We’re trying to change how people think of our team’
"I'm psyched. I mean, as a basketball fan, this must be the best of the best of the best basketball arenas of all time in a sense. If we're trying to change how people think of our team, why not do at least that?"