Clippers Interested In Moving To The Westside, Says Report
So where, possibly, will this new Clippers arena be? Sources tell ESPN that Ballmer has his sights set on the westside, though it's too early to pinpoint an exact location.
Under their current lease, the Clippers will remain at The Staples Center until 2024. But, according to sources who spoke with ESPN, Ballmer (and the team), are growing weary about being regarded as the "third tenant" behind the Lakers and the Kings; the Clippers get a smaller share of suites and club seats, and less of a say in scheduling.
As noted by the L.A. Times, there are various issues with being placed behind the Lakers and the Kings. Sometimes, the Clippers are forced to practice in their locker room because they don't have a basketball court—crews are still dismantling the ice rink from a prior Kings game. Other times, the team may play a home game that’s sandwiched between two road games. "We're third guy in, we have third choice in dates," Ballmer said in an interview with The Times' Bill Plaschke.
A new arena will also mean that Ballmer has a bigger say in the fan experience. And, from what we gather, Ballmer is all about making experiences as intense (and scary?) as possible. Baller told a crowd at this month's Geekwire's Sports Tech Summit that he liked the idea of upgrading broadband capacity and instilling an "augmented reality experience" at arenas. So the Clippers are gonna hold a Pokemon Go night? Awesome.
ESPN's Arash Markazi also offered his expert take on the situation:
Steve Ballmer hasn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the Staples Center setup and lease with friends since buying the team.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 27, 2016
While Ballmer may be thinking of moving to a new arena, the consensus is that he has no intentions of moving the team out of L.A.
The Clippers, as you may remember, had played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena from 1984 to 1999 before they'd moved to the Staples Center.
The issue of building new arenas is a contentious one. Developers and sports executives say that new arenas can revitalize nearby areas, bring in tax revenue, and generate new fanfare for local teams. But, as noted at The Atlantic, the obligations can also be a big money sink for tax payers. A 2015 research conducted at Stanford said that NFL stadiums are not a big boon for their respective cities. "[The] incremental tax revenue is not sufficient to cover any significant financial contribution by the city," said researcher Roger Noll.