CM – Steve Ballmer from Clippers is delighted with the groundbreaking ceremony for Intuit Dome

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LOS ANGELES – Steve Ballmer would prefer not to hear any more speculation about whether the Clippers might one day head north.

« Of course we’re not moving the team to Seattle, » said the Clippers owner on Thursday in an interview with Beat reporters in the team’s offices in downtown LA – on the eve of the groundbreaking on Friday for the new, privately funded $ 1.8 billion-of-the-art Intuit Dome in Inglewood, where its Clippers are set to play home games from 2024.

« I don’t know if that will speak to anyone again, » said Ballmer. « I hope not. »

Intuit will have the naming rights to the arena and agree a 23-year partnership with the Clippers, which begins now as the construction of the venue with around 18,000 seats and the surrounding training facility, the team office space, the medical clinic and the outdoor area starts retail, grocery and a basketball court.

« Steve wanted a brand that he admired, that valued innovation that cares about customers, » said Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations for Clippers, who on Thursday gave a tour of one floor of the downtown offices led by LA to model the features of the arena.

« He wanted a brand that cared about the community … and a brand that looked good with our colors. »

Ballmer said the location of the new arena – on Century Boulevard near Prairie Avenue, across from the SoFi stadium, which is home to the NFL’s rams and chargers – is also his wish.

There were delays in securing it, mostly due to a legal battle with the former owners of the nearby forum – a battle that ended when Ballmer bought the iconic concert hall for $ 400 million.

« I really wanted to be west of 110 (freeway), south of 10, and north of 105 – and there just aren’t that many places, » Ballmer said. “We saw some locations out there and I think people would have said, ‘Well, you’re not really in L.A. anymore when we play in Carson. I just think people think differently about these things. Especially in basketball when you have 41 home games instead of eight. « 

 » If you want to be as competitive as possible, this is the best market in the world to get free agents, « he said, pausing what prospects his team had after reaching the final of the Western Conference for the first time last season (with no injured star Kawhi Leonard) and beyond.

Once they move into their shiny new digs, the Clippers won’t suffer from being prioritized third in terms of schedule, as they did at the Staples Center, where they’ve played since it opened in 1999, as well House the Kings of the NHL, the Lakers of the NBA and the Sparks of the WNBA.

« I knew we were the third tenant, I didn’t really know what that meant from a scheduling perspective, » said Ballmer. “I hadn’t thought of that when I bought the team and then you play more and more Saturday afternoon games at 12:30 and it’s harder to get fans into the building. You play Monday Night Football on Monday night, it’s harder to get fans into the building. You’re not there Friday night, which is a great night.  »

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That may change in 2024-25 when the Clippers debut their building. Also: a two-sided « Halo Board », an oval display board with 7,000 square meters of LED lights that hang over the square without blocking lines of sight.

Fans can also look forward to no till concessions (« tech-ready, » Zucker said) and the ability to find a bathroom close by no matter where they are (the Clippers say the number of 1,500 toilets per person will be more than twice as large). other NBA arena). It’s all designed to get the fans back to their seats as soon as possible and enjoy good basketball.

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