Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has a brand-new asset, albeit one that’s been around for nearly half a century. The former Microsoft CEO has agreed to pay $400 million to purchase the Forum in Inglewood from MSG.
The deal clears a big hurdle in Ballmer’s plans to build a new arena for his NBA team, which has shared Staples Center with the Lakers since the building opened in 1999.
“This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said in a statement. “We are committed to our investment in the city of Inglewood, which will be good for the community, the Clippers and our fans.”
The all-cash purchase, made through the new CAPSS LLC, is set to close in the second quarter.
The Forum deal also settles MSG’s long-running lawsuit that aimed to block the Clippers planned $1 billion arena to be built on Century Boulevard between Prairie Avenue and Yukon Avenue, just blocks from the Forum. The privately funded venue is targeted as part of what is proposed as the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Complex.
The Forum will continue to host live concerts, and all of MSG’s current Forum employees will be offered jobs by the new owners.
The venerable hall opened in 1967 as the home of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s then-expansion Los Angeles Kings — all owned by Jack Kent Cooke. It also hosted concerts by the world’s biggest rock acts, including the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Queen, among other uses. It also was the site of the heavyweight title rematch between Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton in 1973.
Formerly branded as the Great Western Forum — after being dubbed “the Fabulous Forum” by legendary Lakers announcer Chick Hearn — the building underwent a $50 million restoration after the Madison Square Garden Company bought it in 2012. It officially reopened in 2014 with a series of six sold-out concerts by the native L.A. band Eagles.
The Clippers relocated from San Diego to L.A. in 1984 and played in the since-shuttered Sports Arena until moving to Staples Center.