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Steve Ballmer, James Dolan feud: MSG fires back at Clippers owner over stadium plans

Thomas Barrabi

The parent company of the NBA’s New York Knicks fired back at Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer on Monday after the former Microsoft CEO publicly criticized Knicks owner James Dolan for obstructing his plans to build a new stadium.

Dolan’s firm, the Madison Square Garden Company, has filed two lawsuits in a bid to block Ballmer from building a new arena in Inglewood, California, about one mile away from The Forum, an MSG-owned sports and concert venue. Aside from competitive concerns, the company argues Ballmer’s proposal would be a logistical nightmare for the city.

“Imagine MSG, MetLife Stadium and Barclays Center all within blocks of each other. Then remove all major highways, public transportation and parking. That is what Inglewood will be,” a Madison Square Garden Company spokesperson said in a statement to FOX Business, referencing major sports venues in the New York City area.

Ballmer, who has owned the Clippers since 2014, plans to build a new stadium for the franchise to use when its current lease at the Staples Center expires in 2024. The 63-year-old billionaire has been highly critical of efforts by Dolan and his associates to block the project.

"We're on a path where we think we can build the arena, whatever happens in the litigation," Ballmer told ESPN late last week. "We're moving along. ... The other side is just trying to slow us down a little bit. But it's another thing where we're grinders. We're long-term players and we're grinders."

Ballmer added that the Clippers were “going to open that arena one way or another.” While few details regarding his plans have emerged, Ballmer has said the stadium will be privately financed.

"My partner in the NBA! It's a weird form of partnership," Ballmer added at the time, regarding Dolan.

The Madison Square Garden Company has owned The Forum since 2012 and also operates the Knicks, the NHL's New York Rangers and various other venues. The Forum would likely compete with Ballmer's stadium for prominent musical acts.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver tried and failed to broker a meeting between the two billionaires earlier this year, the New York Daily News reported. The league supports Ballmer's plans to build the stadium.

"I have talked to Jim Dolan and Steve Ballmer about that lawsuit," Silver said last May. "Obviously, it's not something you like to see between partners in the NBA. I don't think there's a role for the league at the moment, but it's something that we're paying a lot of attention to."

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