LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) Inglewood, Calif., officials, including the mayor, have filed court documents opposing a recent lawsuit by Madison Square Garden Co., calling it a “sham.”
MSG, owners of the city’s Forum, recently filed suit against Inglewood, Mayor James T. Butts, and a business associated with the Los Angeles Clippers, who plan to move to Inglewood in a new arena that would be uncomfortably close to the recently remodeled Forum. MSG clams that Murphy’s Bowl, LLC, related to the Clippers, have interfered with a contract between MSG and the city that protected it from construction of a competing arena; the Clippers new home would be built about a mile from the Forum.
The lawsuit also claims Butts (“at the center of the alleged deception”) deceived the Forum to give up its long-term lease and purchase option with the city for 15 acres of city-owned land for overflow parking. MSG alleges that Butts said the land was needed for a “technology park” to attract new businesses to Inglewood but was secretly planning to provide the land to the Clippers.
In the court filing on Monday, city officials, represented by attorney Skip Miller, deny charges of fraud and breach of contract.
“By its lawsuit, Madison Square Garden is trying to block the Clippers’ move and construction of the arena, to impede competition and stifle the economic growth of Inglewood,” the filing says, according to the Los Angeles Times. Miller added in his filing that the lawsuit was a “sham.”
“The Forum has been a proud member of Inglewood’s fabric since it first opened its doors 50 years ago, and we have nothing but respect and affection for our home community,” Marvin Putnam of Latham & Watkins LLP, counsel for MSG Forum, said in a statement when the lawsuit was filed in early March. “Unfortunately, the shocking and outrageous conduct of the Mayor, City officials and others have forced us to seek accountability in the courts in order to protect the Forum.”
The lawsuit alleges that the mayor directed Forum executives to email him on a private gmail account to keep discussions “confidential.” MSG Forum notes in the complaint that it invested more than $50 million in the venue and maintained a ticket minimum guaranteeing $600,000 annual revenue to the city for 30 years in exchange for the city to not engage in “any action or proceeding” that would cause “a material adverse impact on the … economic competitiveness of the Forum.”