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The Forum

LA Times: Azoff, Jeanie Buss Discussed Moving Lakers To Forum

The Forum (By Ritapepaj (Own work) / CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) Just before the Los Angeles Clippers and owner Steve Ballmer announced they were moving out of the Staples Center into a new arena in Inglewood, those close to Inglewood’s Forum and the LA Lakers were discussing a move as well, according to emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The Forum and the new Clippers arena will be close neighbors if the latter gets built. Both the Clippers and the Lakers play in Los Angeles’ Staples Center, and the Clippers announced their intended exit June 15, 2017. It turns out that, the day before, music business mogul Irving Azoff and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, along with top adviser Linda Rambis, had an email discussion that would have moved the Lakers as well, leaving hockey team the LA Kings as the Staples’ anchor tenant.

“Here’s my dream,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14, according to the Times. “Rebuild the forum from scratch. Lakers plus music. boom.”

“That’s an incredible dream count me in!” Rambis responded at one point.

Buss responded within a half hour of the email, but appeared to be more diplomatic.

“I think about the vision you and [wife] Shelli had when you re-imagined the Forum and how you made it happen,” Buss wrote. “I believe you can do anything.”

Azoff, along with wife Shelli are considered the primary architects of rebuilding the Forum into a music-centric venue when Madison Square Garden and chairman James Dolan announced they would be renovating the aging building, as well as announcing their presence on the West Coast. At the time, it was made clear that the Forum, with a $100 million injection from MSG, would be designed for music, making it unique among venues that are designed to attract a professional sports team as an anchor tenant.

The emails were among tens of thousands of documents produced during discovery in MSG’s lawsuit against Inglewood over the potential Clippers arena, the Times said.

“We were blind sided and not involved in the process,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14. “It’s a long way to fruition but we should talk about how it impacts the lakers, forum, etc.!”

The emails include discussions of Laker-centric politics (i.e., a legal fight between Jeannie Buss and her brothers Jim and Johnny over control of the team) and talk of Ballmer (i.e., “balls” or “ballz”).

Azoff noted that a Lakers move could be impeded by Staples owner Phil Anschutz but theorized that if the Lakers ended up in Inglewood after the team’s lease runs out in 2025, it “would force ballz and phil back together and staples.”

“We will either keep the [Forum] exactly as it is or build a beautiful new building for lakers and music,” Azoff continued in the email to Buss. “We have years to decide but we are going to design it now anyway just in case.

“Our experts say there is zero chance balls can build on the other site and century [boulevard] can’t handle the extra traffic. We are nearly positive it’s a non starter.”

h/t Los Angeles Times



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