Skip to content

Why a Billionaire Fought to Build LA’s New Arena

Video narrated by Fred Mills. This video and article contain paid promotion for Brilliant.

ON the outskirts of LA, one of the most expensive sports venues ever constructed is nearing completion. But it’s not for NFL, baseball or soccer; this stunning arena will be the new pride of the NBA.

Designed to create the most intimidating atmosphere possible it’s got the largest video scoreboard of its kind and it’s going to run completely carbon-free. 

Oh, and it’s being built by one of the world’s richest, and most eccentric billionaires.

So, how come it’s costing so much for its size, and why build it in the first place? Time for a look inside the Clippers’ new house, which is set to be a slam dunk.

Above: The Intuit Dome sits in the LA suburb of Inglewood. Image courtesy of LA Clippers.

Los Angeles, California. It’s where the sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and if you’re a fan of basketball there’s nowhere better to be.

Yes, really. The home of Hollywood also has two of the most valuable teams in the NBA based right here.

Even if you’re not into sports you will have heard of one of them at least — the Lakers. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson … they’ve all donned the famous yellow jersey.

The Clippers, on the other hand, have had to cope with being less popular and successful than their rivals, and the fact they’ve had to share a venue hasn’t helped.

That’s right, they’ve both spent decades playing at the Arena — formerly the Staples Center — which also hosted the 2024 Grammys.

Rising stars

But not for much longer. The Clippers are now packing up and moving out, into a place of their own. And what a place it is — the USD $2BN Intuit Dome. 

No, that wasn’t a mistake; this basketball arena with less than 18,000 seats is expected to cost more than the Allegiant Stadium in Vegas, where the 2024 Super Bowl was held.

That one’s over three times as big, with space for 65,000. In fact, the only one in the world that had a higher price tag was SoFi Stadium, and that just happens to be right next door, in Inglewood.

Above: The arena will have a capacity of around 17,700. Image courtesy of LA Clippers.

You see, just like at SoFi, where the Rams of the NFL play, the Clippers are lucky enough to be owned by a billionaire.

But this isn’t a regular rich guy — the man behind Intuit Dome is seriously loaded, and known for being a bit of a character. Yes, we’re talking about former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

OK, but why on Earth is it so expensive? Well, when you look at all the ingredients going into it, you begin to understand where that money has been going.

Let’s start with the most obvious thing — that exterior. The building is covered in a shell made from diamond-shaped panels placed on a structural steel diagrid. This allows it to resemble a giant basketball net sitting on top of the venue.

Under the canopy

There’s a lot packed inside, too. It’s got five full-size courts in total — more than any other NBA venue — including two practice courts and an outdoor one.

A 7,000-square-metre plaza stretches around the arena, complete with shops, bars, restaurants and a huge LED screen.

The site even has offices, a hotel, training facility, concert stage and — because it’s LA — 4,000 parking spaces.

Above: There's a lot more to the venue than just a basketball court and seating.

What about the main arena? Well, it does have a pretty unusual design. Thanks to its steep bowl-shaped layout, fans will feel much closer to the action than they were previously — almost like they’re sat hovering over the court.

If that wasn’t imposing enough, there’s a whole section that’s basically designed to scare the opposition.

Called The Wall, it’ll have 51 rows of uninterrupted seats placed near the visitors’ bench, helping to create an intense atmosphere. Think of it as the LA equivalent to The Kop at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.

The view from above

You might assume that fans in the higher seats won’t have as much to see, but you’d be wrong.

Because here will be the largest ever double-sided video screen in an arena setting — the Halo Board, which is armed with more than 200M LEDs.

With this high-tech piece of kit, sight-lines can be optimised for all seats, and those watching from the upper bowl get the best view of it.

Above: The Halo Board will stretch for almost a full acre all the way around. Image courtesy of LA Clippers.

Now, speaking of bowls, there’s one other thing this place has more of than anywhere else.

“Toilets! 1,160 toilets and urinals! Three times the average NBA number,” screamed Ballmer at a recent press conference. “We do not want people waiting in line, we want them back in their damn seats!”

Alright, calm down Steve. He is trying to make a point, though — that the Intuit Dome is flush with features aimed at ensuring people won’t miss any of the action.

There will be grab-and-go concession stands with no queuing, 200 game clocks reminding people to sit back down, and other types of so-called frictionless technology.

Green credentials

What’s also impressive about this venue is it will be 100 percent carbon-free from day one. That means it’ll be producing zero waste, a low water strategy will save 7.5M gallons of the stuff every year and the arena is fully electric.

On the roof you’ll find hundreds of solar panels, which feed into an on-site battery system. 

A lot of energy can be generated and stored this way — it’s sunny in LA, remember — and it even allows the stadium to operate off-grid for over six hours. More than long enough for an entire NBA Finals game.

The roof is also covered in PTFE and ETFE panels, which reduce energy consumption. They’re used to block out the heat of the sun while letting in plenty of natural daylight.

Above: The roof is covered with almost 300 solar panels. Image courtesy of LA Clippers.

It might be good for the environment, but a lot of concrete still had to be used for the subterranean frame and foundations.

Almost 50,000 cubic metres of the material was required. That amount would fill 19 Olympic-size swimming pools.

After this was done, attention turned to the steelwork, including the roof, which weighs almost 3,000 tonnes.

March 2023 was when the final steel beam — signed by all the people involved in the build — went into place. That’s less than two years after work began in September 2021.

Billionaire backing

OK, so where is all that cash coming from? Well, Ballmer is the tenth-richest person in the world with a net worth of about $120BN — at the time this video was published. 

In other words, he can afford to privately fund it. Which is just as well, because that $2BN isn’t even the total amount he had to spend to get his pet project up and running.

Acquiring the land cost over $60M, then a further $400M was spent buying a nearby venue owned by another NBA team boss, who wasn’t keen on Ballmer’s plans.

Above: Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. Image courtesy of LA Clippers.

Of course, the idea is to make at least some of that money back. Title rights for the Dome have already been sold to financial software company Intuit for more than $500M.

And like many new sports venues, the arena can also be adapted for other uses, such as live music events, which will help bring in extra revenue.

Concerts have already been announced from the likes of Weezer, Billy Joel and Usher.

One thing’s for sure, the Clippers haven’t Got It Bad with their new home, and the same goes for the people of Inglewood.

Ballmer and his team have pledged to deliver $100M in community benefits to the local area, including affordable housing schemes.

The venue will also host the 2026 NBA All-Star Game and basketball events at the 2028 Summer Olympics.

It seems that LA’s latest arena has scored some big points already, before it’s even finished.

Game changer

Basketball arenas might not be as big as stadiums used for other sports, and they don’t tend to offer as much in terms of design or built-in technology.

But this one certainly bucks the trend. Come Summer 2024, the Clippers won’t just have a place that will separate them from their more famous neighbours.

In terms of who has the better arena, the Lakers might soon find themselves in an unfamiliar position — second best.

This video and article contains paid promotion for Brilliant. To try everything Brilliant has to offer for free for a full 30 days, visit or click on the link in the description. You’ll also get 20% off an annual premium subscription.

Additional footage and images courtesy of LA Clippers, Erik Drost, ESPN, Keith Allison, Microsoft Sweden, Raiders, TNT Sports and Troutfarm27.  

We welcome you sharing our content to inspire others, but please be nice and play by our rules.


Email Format

Next up