A proposed new arena for the Los Angeles Clippers cleared a significant hurdle after a state environmental technical evaluation found the project will have net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
The Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center, a 33-acre mixed-use project with a projected $1.2-billion price tag, was determined to meet the criteria for streamlined judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act following a California Air Resources Board application review.
Additionally, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Dec. 13 finding that the project is eligible for streamlined judicial review. The California Legislature's Joint Legislative Budget Committee concurred in a Dec. 20 letter to the Governor's Office of Planning and Research.
As proposed, the facility is expected to generate a net increase of 304,683 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent throughout its operational life. Of this, 50 percent—or 152,342 MTCO2-e—must be reduced through local, direct measures.
The developer intends to build the facility to LEED Gold certification standards, but the greatest emissions reduction is expected through the implementation of a transportation demand program. These types of programs, also known as transportation demand management, create policies and strategies designed to reduce peak travel demand—shifting single-occupant car trips to other modes of transportation, such as cycling, walking, car or van pools, or public transit, for example. Other local reductions are planned through constructing transportation-related infrastructure, including more than 300 electric-vehicle charging stations on-site and another 1,000 at nearby residences.
All of the combined proposed measures are expected to reduce GHG emissions by 156,266 MTCO2-e. The remaining 148,417 MTCO2-e of necessary reductions would be obtained through offset credits. Under the streamlining terms, no more than 50 percent of the reductions can be from offset credits.
The complex would include team practice and training facilities for the Clippers in addition to the multipurpose arena and team offices. Other on-site developments would include a sports-medicine clinic, retail and community space.
The project has been supported by local lawmakers, who made the fast-tracking possible with the passage of AB 987 in 2018. The application was originally submitted to CARB on Jan. 2, 2019.
In addition to specifying that the facility have no net GHG emissions, including from employee transportation sources, streamlining was subject to several other conditions. Among them is a requirement that developers make a minimum $100-million investment in the state upon project completion, and several other labor-related clauses are designed to guarantee both construction and ongoing jobs with prevailing and living wages.
Construction is set to begin in 2021 and should be completed in June 2024.
Former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Climate Resolve and other parties have joined local residents in opposition to the arena proposal. The most vocal opposition continues to be that of the owners of The Forum, a neighboring facility open since 1967. Lawsuits and countersuits address whether the new arena would compete with The Forum. The Forum's owners also argue the project does not meet any of the AB 987 requirements or other environmental mandates.
Inglewood is also the site of SoFi Stadium, which is expected to open in July and will be home field for two NFL teams. It is due to host the Super Bowl in 2022.
The Clippers currently play at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles; however, their lease expires in 2024. Owner Steve Ballmer has been vocal about wanting a new venue since purchasing the team in 2014. The team is fourth in the NBA's Western Conference—behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Houston Rockets—with a 26-15 record, and is scheduled to play the Golden State Warriors Jan. 10.
The arena project is still subject to review by the City of Inglewood. The city posted the draft environmental impact review on its website Dec. 27. It did not respond to requests for comment by press time.