Ballmer breaks ground in Inglewood
September 23, 2021
An empty lot now stands in memory where the enticing aroma of Church's Chicken once wafted from the moribund restaurant on the Southeast corner of Century Boulevard and Prairie Avenue. Mouths will no longer be full of the deliciously greasy chicken. Instead, Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, hopes to fill the mouths of raucous fans with cheers as he broke ground in Inglewood to erect his vision of the NBA's most lavish and technologically savvy arena.
Last Friday, September 17, the Clippers broke ground and announced the naming rights of their future home scheduled to open in time for the 2024-2025 season -- the Intuit Dome. Ballmer and his team must have a place unto themselves if the Clippers are ever to emerge out of the shadow of their cross-hallway rivals, the Lakers.
"We wanted to build a home that is of our own, that sets the standard for us," Ballmer stated. "We don't play in anybody's shadow. We want to redefine how sports is watched, how we listen to music, how we cheer for our favorite performer. A home frankly that is uniquely intense, where we're not just close to the action, but where we are going to ask our fans to participate."
The 18,000-seat arena is designed to be a temple for basketball and concerts, where fans are 45 feet closer to the action. The Clippers hope to have a distinct homecourt advantage with "The Wall," 51 consecutive rows at a steep slope, from baseline to the roof, of boisterous fans, booming down on the opposing bench.
"No matter where you sit, you're going to feel like you're hovering over the floor of the stadium," Ballmer said. "You're going to feel like our team is so close, that when they reach for a steal, they might even slap you in the face."
In addition, the future venue will be adorned with a halo scoreboard with an acre of 4k LED lights with unobstructed sightlines.
To make the new digs unique, the Intuit Dome will adorn the basketball jerseys from every high school team throughout the state and use repurposed wood from gym floors to line the walls. In addition, several courts inside and outside the dome will be available for fans to play pickup games while screens stream Clipper games.
According to Ballmer, fans won't have to worry about missing any action due to long concessions or bathroom lines, "technology willing." The Intuit Dome will have an app-based concessions checkout where fans can grab a snack and go, utilize one of the 1,500 toilets, double more than any other NBA arena, and be back in their seat before a timeout is over. Ballmer's vision is to have fans back in their chairs, as quickly as possible, to provide the Clippers with the extra energy boost needed to secure wins.
Ballmer's billion-dollar wager of building, the Intuit Dome is more than a testament to technology. This gambit is for the heart and soul of Inglewood, future generations, and for the Clippers to do LA their way.
Follow Eric on Twitter @elambsquared and IG @elamb5quared.