Forum owners claim damages over Clippers deal, prepare lawsuit
Forum lawyers level bait-and-switch accusation at Mayor Butts
The new Clippers facility would be located on a 20-acre parcel south of Century Boulevard at Prairie Avenue. Photo: Google
Forum owners claim deception by Inglewood; Madison Square Garden Co. files claim to stop L.A. Clippers arena deal
INGLEWOOD – Mayor James C. Butts issued an official statement, Thursday, to the owners of The Forum concert venue, who filed a claim for damages a day earlier on July 19 against the city of Inglewood for entering into a deal to build a new Los Angeles Clippers arena in the city, less than a mile away at the corner of Century Boulevard and Yukon Avenue.
Speaking for The Madison Square Garden Co., Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit, said July 19, “We believe fraud has been committed here.”
Putnam told the Daily Breeze, Wednesday, that “Butts used a bait-and-switch strategy to coerce Forum executives into clearing the way for the project on a Century Boulevard parcel across from the NFL stadium currently under construction. They say Butts persuaded them to give up their leasehold in April on part of a parking lot to make way for a new business-technology park.”
Butts responded that he hoped the city and The Madison Square Garden Company and Live Nation can find a way to resolve the conflict.
“The City of Inglewood cherishes its relationship with The Madison Square Garden Company and Live Nation. Working together, we have seen the Forum become one of the top concert venues in the country,” Butts said. “We disagree on the City’s right to self-determination and the scope of that right. The Inglewood City Council’s first responsibility is to its residents and their quality of life while ensuring continued progress, opportunities for employment, and improved public safety.
“In the end, I believe that we will be able to come together and find an amicable resolution. In the meantime, life goes on unabated for both the Forum and the City of Inglewood,” Butts added.
MSG was disappointed by an announcement from Inglewood officials in June of an agreement with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer for an 18,000 to 20,000-seat arena that would likely also host concerts, an arrangement that would likely conflict with the Forum.
The Inglewood City Council approved the exclusive-negotiating agreement with Ballmer on June 15, which was secured with a $1.5 million payment to the city. Both parties have three years to negotiate for the new arena.
The Clippers currently share the Staples Center with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings. Ballmer wants to move the NBA team to a new state-of-the-art facility. The team’s Los Angeles lease is up in 2024.
“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ They’re attempting to flat-out trick people,” said Putnam, the Daily Breeze reported.
Forum officials added the following in a statement:
“We, along with the hundreds of hardworking men and women who work to bring top-flight entertainment events to the Forum, are stunned that the city is moving forward with a plan that is in direct conflict with its existing and clear-cut written commitments to our venue.”