Temporary offices for AECOM Hunt/Turner Construction at the Inglewood stadium site, seen in 2018. (Don Muret / Staff)

Several potential candidates for the job have California projects

In their effort to hire a construction firm to build their new arena, the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers can find one bidder working across the street from the site of the planned 18,000-seat facility.

The joint venture of AECOM Hunt/Turner Construction is building the new stadium in Inglewood for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, which will open in 2020. The stadium sits across Century Boulevard from the Clippers’ site, a lot spanning 27 acres. The two firms have formed a separate joint venture to compete for the Clippers job.

Two other groups with current or recent California sports projects, PCL Construction and the joint venture of Mortenson and Clark Construction, are also bidding for the job. Mortenson/Clark is building Chase Center, the Golden State Warriors’ $1 billion arena complex in San Francisco, which is set to open in September. PCL built Banc of California Stadium, LAFC’s $350 million soccer facility, which opened in April 2018.

The Clippers are interviewing general contractors this week for construction management, sources said.

It’s another sign that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is serious about building the third major arena in the Los Angeles market, joining Staples Center in downtown L.A. and the Forum, a few blocks away in Inglewood.

Clippers officials declined comment on the project.

Ballmer, who bought the team for $2 billion in 2014, has said publicly he’s committed to building a new arena in Inglewood to open in 2024 and the arena development team has a website, clippersarenainglewood.com, with details on the project. The team plays its home games at Staples Center, where its lease runs through June 2024. The Clippers are third in the pecking order for dates behind the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, and Ballmer says a new arena will enable the Clippers to secure better dates for NBA games.

The Clippers’ arena project extends to a practice facility, a sports medicine clinic and retail space. The total project cost has been fluctuating, and to this point, the numbers remain confidential, sources said.

The team is in the midst of a three-year exclusive negotiating agreement with the city of Inglewood after Ballmer paid the city a $1.5 million nonrefundable deposit, according to published reports.

AECOM Hunt/Turner may have a leg up on its competitors to build the Clippers’ arena. The general contractor has been consulting with the Clippers for a few years on arena development, plus AECOM’s sports architecture group is designing the facility, sources said. The Clippers have not publicly announced the designer.

AECOM designed Golden 1 Center, the NBA Sacramento Kings’ arena, which opened in 2016 as the big leagues’ first LEED Platinum-certified building, the highest rating given in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system used by the U.S. Green Building Council.

For AECOM Hunt, another common thread is Wilson Meany, which is consulting on the Clippers’ project. The company is the developer for the Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District, the 300-acre complex that includes the NFL facility.

The Clippers’ project faces legal challenges. One lawsuit was filed by Madison Square Garden Entertainment, owner and operator of the 17,505-seat Forum, which is visible from the Clippers’ site.

Some industry experts question how Ballmer plans to fill the arena with concerts and other special events, given that it would compete against the Forum and Staples Center. MSG has close ties to Live Nation, the world’s top concert promoter. AEG owns and operates Staples Center, and its AEG Presents is the second-biggest promoter. All things being equal, Live Nation and AEG historically book their tours in the buildings where they hold a financial stake and have the strongest relationships.

In September, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a piece of legislation that puts restrictions on environmental litigation under the California Environmental Quality Act. The law effectively streamlines the process for developing the Clippers’ arena.