TOPS IN INGLEWOOD: The final steel beam is in place atop the Intuit Dome, eventual home of Steve Ballmer’s NBA Los Angeles Clippers. (Courtesy team)
Gillian Zucker Joins Owner Steve Ballmer for Ceremony
The Los Angeles Clippers’ new $2 billion home is one step closer to becoming a reality as the organization and its partners gathered to celebrate the final steel beam being placed atop the Intuit Dome on March 7.
The NBA team’s President of Business Operations, Gillian Zucker, and owner Steve Ballmer expressed their excitement over the milestone and informed media attendees that the project is on schedule to be completed by fall of next year.
“We remain on schedule for a full 2024 opening thanks to the tireless efforts of our joint venture partners and Turner,” Zucker said. “They pour their heart and soul into this site every single day. We are all so proud of what they’ve done, but especially of who they represent. Of nearly 3,000 workers who have touched this project so far, 73 percent are people of color. To date, almost $10 million wages have been paid to workers in Inglewood and the immediate surrounding areas.”
The 17,700-capacity arena designed by AECOM is coming in nicely with much of the framing completed, including that of its nearly 1-acre scoreboard, a particular feature that the former Microsoft CEO boasted about.
“You might not know it’s a scoreboard, but if you look at these steel panels, … that’s the frame for the scoreboard,” says Ballmer, who is among the top 10 wealthiest individuals in the world. “An acre, one acre of scoreboard — about five times [larger] than any other arena in the league. Best seats, most legroom, most headroom, easiest to see.”
Ballmer, who visits the site once a month, added that “it’s pretty stunning” to see how far the project has come along since breaking ground only 18 months ago.
“We had our players out here the last time and there was nothing except a shovel, a few mounds of dirt and it didn’t seem very impressive,” he says. “It sure didn’t seem like it would be this far along in a year and a half. I don’t know the first darn thing about construction, [but] it’s pretty impressive.”
The Clippers owner was asked to keep his comments brief, but he couldn’t contain himself when talking about the Intuit Dome.
“I just want to riff off just a few things,” he says. “I put more time and energy, and I have more of a view of what to do with this than any other piece of software at Microsoft or wherever I used to work,” Ballmer says.
He started off by mentioning that the bowl structure is among the tightest in the league and will place fans closer to the action. A section called “The Wall” is a steep part of the arena that includes 4,000 seats, no suites and a standing-room-only section that will be for exclusively for Clippers fans. He compared it to a student section in collegiate sports.
Lights and chips will also be integrated into the seats, as well as some controls, that will not only enhance the fan experience but inform the venue of how often fans stand or are away from their chairs. The Clippers plan on using the NBA phone application to make it easier for fans to not only purchase tickets but also a hot dog.
“In our building, we didn’t set out to be high tech but somehow we would up being high tech,” Ballmer said during an interview with CNBC in February. “… We’ve gone all frictionless for commerce. You just grab whatever you want. You grab your jersey, you grab a hot dog if you will, cameras in the ceiling recognize you, charge your account for what you bought.”
The process of purchasing tickets, merchandise and food isn’t the only thing Ballmer is expediting. He was ecstatic to tell the media about the fact that Intuit Dome will have 1,160 toilets and urinals, a proclamation that received the biggest applause.
“Three times the NBA average number of toilets and urinals,” Ballmer said. “We don’t want people waiting in lines. We want them to get back to their damn seats.”
Another prompt that will get fans into their seats is the implementation of 199 clocks throughout the venue that count down every break.
Sustainability was also an important factor for the development of the arena, which will have solar farms on the roof and nearly 1,000 Cypress trees planted near the structure and throughout Inglewood “in partnership with Intuit and Aspiration to commemorate this milestone, to absorb carbon, to beautify and bring shade to the city. It represents our commitment to sustainability at Intuit Dome,” Zucker says.
Such features and amenities will make it not only one of the most remarkable buildings in sports but in all of live entertainment. Ballmer said that Inglewood truly will be “the entertainment capital of the world” with the Kia Forum, SoFi Stadium, YouTube Theater and the Intuit Dome.
“We also want this to be the best concert venue it can be, and a lot of thought and energy went into it,” Ballmer said. “… So, I am excited; I am appreciative of all the hard work.”