LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer ‘building our own presence, identity’ with new arena

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LA Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer in the beginning was content material to enjoy at Staples Centre — in the exact developing as the Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings — when he purchased the franchise for $2 billion in 2014.

But in a 12 months, Ballmer stated he realized the Clippers necessary to make their possess stadium if they required to develop their possess “identification.”

“We desired to say, ‘We’re our own guys. We really don’t engage in in the exact location as the other men. We’re heading to have our very own identity,'” Ballmer explained to ESPN in a wide-ranging job interview in progress of Friday’s groundbreaking for the Clippers’ new arena in Inglewood.

Introducing the @IntuitDome.
Foreseeable future home of the LA Clippers.

— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) September 17, 2021

Ballmer estimated the new arena, which will be regarded as the Intuit Dome and is scheduled to open for the 2024-25 period, will price tag him upward of $2 billion — effectively the exact same price he paid out for the franchise just 7 several years ago — but he definitely believes it is essential to the Clippers’ accomplishment on and off the court docket.

“I’ve in no way been in a area wherever you experienced two teams in a city,” Ballmer reported. “I grew up in Detroit. Everybody’s a Pistons enthusiast. And I believe for more than enough years the Clippers were being undesirable plenty of, every person could just overlook the Clippers.

“We’re good now, and we are heading to be very good year in and year out. We are heading to build our personal setting up, a lot more of our possess identity, much more of our own temperament. And I imagine some of the admirers on the other side, if you will, it’s like, ‘What? You dare to problem our supremacy?’ No, we do.

“There is 30 teams in the league. There is 29 others. And we got just one that happens to be primarily based in L.A. And we bought our followers. We use our expression, ‘LA Our Way.’ And we’re creating our individual existence, identity. And if the other guys truly feel a very little threatened — the other guys’ lovers, I signify the players are really a small distinctive offer — but if they feel a very little threatened, that’s Alright. It usually means we are doing very good.”

Intuit Arena Courtesy LA Clippers

The Clippers went to their first Western Meeting finals in franchise heritage very last period, irrespective of losing celebrity ahead Kawhi Leonard to a knee damage in the next spherical of the playoffs.

Leonard, who had the partially torn ACL in his correct knee surgically fixed in the offseason, is anticipated to miss out on much of the 2021-22 period as he recovers. Ballmer explained he is nonetheless optimistic that the crew can create off its playoff accomplishment from previous time.

“Each individual 12 months I want to get,” Ballmer claimed. “Some folks will talk about ‘We’re taking a stage back’ or ‘We bought an wounded calendar year.’ No. Our fans can depend on the simple fact that we are going to try out to win as several ballgames as we can each 12 months. Now, we took a small setback. We obtained to get Kawhi healthier. And when he’s again, we are back at complete strength.”

The Clippers’ major offseason go was re-signing Leonard to a four-12 months, $176.3 million contract. They also acquired guard Eric Bledsoe in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. But they are going to mostly return the exact roster as very last season, minus Leonard for however extended his rehabilitation lasts.

Even with Kawhi Leonard anticipated to overlook significantly of the time, Clippers operator Steve Ballmer stays optimistic. “Each individual yr I want to acquire,” he said. “… Our followers can count on the reality that we are heading to check out to get as numerous ballgames as we can each individual year.” Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Visuals

Ballmer admits he has generally considered of what could’ve been if Leonard hadn’t gotten damage.

“It was unpleasant,” Ballmer stated. “Painful for Kawhi, unpleasant for our workforce, unpleasant for me and, most importantly, agonizing for our fans. But yeah, we gave it a go. We gave it a superior go. We managed to push past Utah, even without Kawhi.

“I was very pleased of our men. We had been in a whisker or two of using treatment of enterprise in the Western Conference finals, even without having Kawhi. We will see when we get him again, but we mainly have most of the same workforce back again for future year. … I remain optimistic.”

The new arena has become anything of a passion task for Ballmer, 65, who retired as Microsoft’s CEO in 2013 and was ranked as the eighth-richest individual in the environment by Bloomberg previous month with a net worth of an believed $108.5 billion.

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He set out to construct the most snug, state-of-the-artwork arena in the NBA and has spared no expense to make it.

Very last calendar year, Ballmer obtained the Forum in Inglewood from New York Knicks operator James Dolan’s The Madison Square Yard Business for $400 million in funds. That shift cleared the lawsuit that stood in the way of constructing a new arena in the vicinity of the audio location.

Ballmer stated he invested a long time traveling the nation to research stadiums and arenas, drawing inspiration from places this sort of as the pupil part at Duke — which will be reflected in a section of 51 uninterrupted rows of the stadium named “The Wall” — as very well as the slope of Utah’s Vivint Arena and conclude zone suites at football stadiums.

He also experienced quite a few guiding concepts from his possess fan experience that are emphasized in the design. To Ballmer, it is really necessary for admirers to be in their seats, watching basketball and cheering as significantly as possible. So to limit the time enthusiasts have to be absent from their seats, he says, the Intuit Dome will have much more legroom than any other arena in the NBA, double the variety of bogs and no checkout lines at concession stands (every little thing will be purchased online).

“I feed off of the energy in the building,” Ballmer mentioned. “But men and women go away and they get late to game titles or they will not get again from halftime. I really want to make positive folks are in their seats so … that electrical power, we feed off of it.”