New LA Clippers arena gets backing from Inglewood City Council

The Los Angeles Clippers could soon be joining the Rams and Chargers as future residents of Inglewood, with the City Council on Thursday unanimously approving an exclusive negotiating agreement for development of an NBA basketball arena on a 22-acre plot of land.

The agreement authorizes a three-year negotiating period with a developer planning to build "a premier and state-of-the-art National Basketball Association professional basketball arena consisting of approximately 18,000 to 20,000 seats.''

The proposed developer is listed as Brandt Vaughan of Murphy's Bowl Inc. Brandt Vaughan is a former Microsoft executive who now serves as CFO of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer's Bellevue, Washington-based Ballmer Group. Also listed as a contact for the company is Dennis Wong, Ballmer's former college roommate and a Clippers co-owner.

As part of the agreement, the developer must make a $1.5 million non-refundable deposit with the city to cover "administrative costs'' and other expenses.

"I don't know of any other city that gets paid $1.5 million to negotiate,'' Inglewood Mayor James Butts said. "Go around and check around this country.''

Media reports had circulated for months that the Clippers were eying Inglewood -- which used to play host to the Lakers at the Forum -- as a possible new home.

The proposed new arena would not be at the under-construction entertainment district at the former Hollywood Park race track site, where an NFL stadium is being built for the Rams and Chargers. The proposed NBA arena would be adjacent to that project, south of Century Boulevard between Prairie and Yukon avenues.

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The Clippers' lease at Staples Center runs through 2024, and it was unclear when a new arena might be completed.

The NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers is scheduled for completion in time for the 2020 season.

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