The future has never felt closer at Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Clippers’ new home in Inglewood. Although the lot that will soon be occupied by the Intuit Dome only held a white tarp building and several construction vehicles, the vision for a modern basketball arena could not be more clear.
The event began with a choreographed dance and musical set followed by a welcome from Inglewood Mayor James Butts. Mayor Butts emphasized the difficulties in navigating the legal and constituent obstacles and demands to allow for the construction of Intuit Dome, which was a theme brought up by several other speakers. Coach Ty Lue, president of business operations Gillian Zucker, and team governor Steve Ballmer also spoke, giving some more insight on the feelings of both the coaching staff and the front office on the move to build the new sports and entertainment complex. Also in attendance were Jerry West, Lawrence Frank, and nearly the entirety of the Clippers’ roster.
The Logo and Kawhi on the scene. pic.twitter.com/VIQxnTJr73— Intuit Dome (@IntuitDome) September 17, 2021
Even though the room was filled with recognizable names and faces, it was clear that the star of the show was Steve Ballmer. Flanked by team members, coaching staff, fans, and press, Ballmer commanded the room with an enthusiasm that everyone is receptive to, demonstrating that his experience in marketing products with Microsoft is well-suited in his new business venture. Before describing the arena itself, he detailed his nearly six year-long journey in acquiring information of the best arenas from around the world. Ultimately, this research helped inform Ballmer’s decisions to focus on some aspects that many less-involved governors might overlook. For example, he made it a point to let everyone know that there will be 1,500 toilets, ensuring no one misses an important play if nature calls. He emphasized the acre-large halo scoreboard, fit with 4K LED lights that will give more statistics and analytics for fans to see at-will. The efficiency of food services will be unmatched, being completely cashless and cashier-less. Even the design of the arena was made so that a top-down view of the roof would mimic a ball dropping through a net.
During his presentation, Ballmer stated that “we want this to be a home where you never want to leave,” and after watching this promotional video, it’s difficult to resist sharing that same sentiment.
To write on every innovative part of the Intuit Dome would be exhausting, but the new complex in its entirety may best be described as a mecca for basketball lovers and a home for Clipper fans. Outdoor courts will surround the complex, acting as an open space community center that can provide for Inglewood residents 24/7.
And that brings us to perhaps the most important part of this massive project—a community focus on the city and residents of Inglewood. Mayor Butts took the mic a second time to emphasize that his priority throughout this whole process was not just to create a state-of-the-art sports complex, but to help improve the city and provide for its residents. With the construction of the Intuit Dome comes thousands of jobs, the vast majority of which will stay local. Additionally, Ballmer will be donating $100 million to the city of Inglewood, funding job training, worker outreach, educational programs, and a rehabilitation of the Inglewood community center and library. $80 million will go towards affordable housing, making sure that the pledge to provide for the community isn’t just more lip service from another gentrifying rich guy. Plus, the arena will be in-part powered by a solar rooftop that could keep the arena running for the entirety of an NBA game during a blackout (theoretically). The social aspect of this venture helped consolidate institutional and local political support as well, shown by seat reservations for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and State Senator Steven Bradford.
one of the biggest days in la clippers history. what a moment. what a time to be a clipper fan pic.twitter.com/kHkqPKsxqq— Jamal Cristopher (@JamCristopher) September 17, 2021
With today’s groundbreaking ceremony, it is clear that the Clippers will build and establish a new, organic identity that is intertwined with the wants and needs of Inglewood residents. However, we as fans (and, for some of us, as LA residents) have a stake in this project and must continue to be involved.
Ballmer made sure to partner with Intuit for naming the arena because of Intuit’s focus on customers and the community—so while construction continues into 2024, let’s make sure to hold the Clippers to their promise to deliver an inviting, accessible community complex that all can enjoy, whether or not a team is taking to the court on any given night.