ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz wrote today that the Clippers are looking to leave STAPLES Center when their lease is up in 2024. They've begun exploring options for future arena sites. None of this is surprising.
Part of the reason this is no surprise just comes from common sense. Anyone can look at the facts and see that movement is a realistic possibility: STAPLES will be 25 years old when the lease is up, the Clippers get third billing among sports tenants, and they never had an owner willing to open his pockets for a new arena before.
Don't believe me? Look at what I tweeted back in January:
The Clippers' lease at STAPLES Center runs through 2024. Lots of time between now and then but they could move within LA at that point.— Lucas Hann (@LucasJHann) January 13, 2016
I don't see them leaving LA (that would be insane) but they could leave STAPLES, which will be 25 years old when their lease expires.— Lucas Hann (@LucasJHann) January 13, 2016
And even if the Clippers don't want to leave STAPLES, they're going to look around the city for other possibilities before their lease is up. In Arnovitz' article, he uses a quote Ballmer gave to the L.A. Times:
"We're third guy in, we have third choice in dates. If you are a good businessman, you don't come to the end of your lease and say, 'I have no options, landlord, please take me to the woodshed and beat me.' We'll have options."
So, yeah, it's not surprising that Arnovitz claims that sources are telling him that the Clippers are looking into new sites. Steve Ballmer literally said publicly that the Clippers would look into new sites.
Looking at new arena sites is exciting. STAPLES Center is growing older, but most importantly, it's what we know, and a beautiful, brand-new stadium owned by the Clippers is something that we can dream about. Hell, depending on where you live, you can dream about a beautiful Clippers-owned stadium that's only a 15-minute drive from your house.
I get that it's exciting to talk about, but let's tone down the rhetoric. KA writes a good article: a complete assessment of where the Clippers' potential move stands. That said, some people have taken the idea and run with it... to the extreme. The Clippers won't be moving for a while, and we aren't even sure that they want to move--they might just be looking for options so they can negotiate a better lease with STAPLES Center.
Above all, let's not forget the golden quote that Arnovitz closes his article with. No matter what Los Angeles neighborhood the Clippers end up in, we can rest easy:
"The Clippers are not going anywhere, ever," Ballmer said. "I will die owning the L.A. Clippers in Los Angeles."— Clips Nation (@ClipsNationSBN) July 27, 2016