Steve Ballmer is buying former Lakers’ home The Forum to speed new Clippers’ arena

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Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has been working for years to do something that should have been done long ago — getting the Clippers their own arena. It’s part of Ballmer’s efforts to get his Clippers out of the shadow of the biggest sports brand in the city, the Los Angeles Lakers.

One problem: Where Ballmer has plans to build an arena in Inglewood — across the street from the new home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers — is near the Forum. That is the legendary home of the Showtime Lakers (before they moved to the Staples Center in the Shaq/Kobe era two decades ago), and a building currently owned and operated by Madison Square Garden, owned by the Knicks’ James Dolan. This set up a proxy fight and legal battle between the Clippers’ and Knicks’ owners over rights to build the new arena, which was really about MSG not wanting the competition for concerts and other events just down the street.

Ballmer’s ultimate response? If you can’t beat them, buy them.

Ballmer is on the verge of buying The Forum, reports Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.

LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in advanced negotiations to purchase The Forum in Inglewood, California, from the Madison Square Garden Company, an acquisition that would clear a major hurdle in the Clippers’ efforts to construct a new home arena in the vicinity, according to league sources.

The Clippers would neither confirm nor deny the report…

After the most recent torrent of lawsuits, the two sides began engaging in substantive discussions to resolve the stalemate. Sources say a potential sale of The Forum proved to be the path of least resistance for both sides, which have collectively spent tens of millions of dollars on litigation, with more actions to adjudicate. Sources say an agreement is imminent.

This would clear the way for Ballmer’s new arena. What exactly would become of the Forum is unclear, but operating two arenas within a few blocks of each other likely proves challenging.

For Ballmer and his Clippers, this makes business sense. They are the third tenant in a building owned by AEG, which also owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, who play there. The Lakers are given scheduling priority and get a larger share of the suite and other building revenue than the Clippers do.

Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO, has wanted to build a new arena that could be both home to his team and a triumph of modern technology. He’s about to get one step closer to that being a reality.