Madison Square Garden (MSG) has ALWAYS fulfilled their obligations to the city of Inglewood in regards to their parking agreement for vacant lots along Century Blvd. Every quarter the city received $50,000 as outlined in the parking agreement signed by both parties. Newly released documents show Inglewood Mayor James Butts has told conflicting stories of how negotiations between him and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer transpired and how all parties were concerned about the reaction this secret deal would receive from MSG owners.
The court documents show Mayor Butts is a master at plausible deniability as it becomes more clear he uses those in his inner circle to execute his demands.
“One other note from the Mayor, since a joint press conference isn’t going to happen,” McCallum wrote in an email to the group, “he would like to be acknowledged by the Clippers, in their press statement, of his efforts for the past year in pursuing Inglewood as the location for the team.”
Zucker responded: “He’s certainly earned the acknowledgment.”
Meany had one suggestion.
“Totally agree we need to give the Mayor kudos, but suggest against time references,” the developer wrote. “Never good to have people focused on how long deals have brewed in back rooms.”
The Los Angeles Times reported:
According to the documents, Butts, Ballmer, Clippers’ minority owner Dennis Wong, developer Chris Meany and an associate, Gerard McCallum, met at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey on June 24, 2016 — about 10 months before Inglewood had said in court filings that it started negotiations with the team.
Wong recounted the meeting in brief notes typed two days afterward that were included in the filings. He said Butts wanted the Clippers in Inglewood and could make a permanent parking deal with MSG in the “next six months.” According to Wong’s account, Butts wanted the Clippers to pay Inglewood $1.5 million for the exclusive negotiating agreement. The mayor, Wong wrote, “gave confidence” the team could get the necessary entitlements.
During a deposition taken last August in connection with the lawsuit and excerpted in the court filings, Butts gave a much different account of the Ritz-Carlton meeting.
He said the Clippers “were looking to not renew their lease at Staples Center, that they were looking at five locations and that Inglewood was one and did we, you know, have any site available,” Butts testified. “And I told them no, we don’t.”
A week later, Wong emailed Ballmer about Inglewood: “We are also waiting for the mayor to make his parking deal which will release the subject parcels from MSG’s mitts!” On Sept. 18, 2016, Wong wrote Meany — who also worked as the developer for Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s stadium and entertainment complex — in Inglewood, that MSG “could make it painful for us if they catch wind” of the arena project and it “will be an interesting meeting with the Mayor on the 27th” at Inglewood City Hall. It’s unclear who attended the meeting or what was discussed.
Wong suggested in a November 2016 email to Ballmer that the owner “slow roll” efforts to secure another site while Butts brokered a deal for MSG to use parking at Kroenke’s football stadium so the company would no longer need the city-owned land. “Lots to do if the contract comes together as the mayor has indicated,” Wong wrote in a follow-up email to Ballmer in January 2017. “I love this location and think it will be transformational for our team and fans but the numbers have to work.” Both sides expressed concern about competition between the Forum and the proposed arena.
Is it now safe to call Inglewood Mayor James Butts a liar?
Read the full Los Angeles Times article by clicking here.