Steve Ballmer’s LA Clippers strike $500 million-plus arena naming-rights deal with TurboTax owner Intuit

New LA Clippers arena.

Source: LA Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers announced on Friday a sponsorship deal with financial software company Intuit, which will hold title rights to the team’s new $1.2 billion arena, scheduled to open in Inglewood in 2024.

The Clippers will call their new complex the Intuit Dome, providing the company with increased brand awareness with signage on and around the 18,000-seat, all-electric arena.

Intuit is a financial management tech company that trades on the Nasdaq and has a $156.4 billion market cap. The company’s products include TurboTax, Credit Karma and QuickBooks.

Terms of the agreement with the Clippers were not made public, but National Basketball Association sources told CNBC the deal is a 23-year agreement that eclipses $500 million.

By comparison, Chase Bank struck a 20-year, roughly $300 million naming-rights deal with the Golden State Warriors. And Staples paid entertainment firm AEG over $100 million when it struck its naming-rights agreement for the downtown Los Angeles building in 1999. The company renewed the pact in 2009 and now has lifetime rights to the Staples Center, which is currently home to the Lakers and Clippers.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and team president Gillian Zucker gave CNBC and other media a preview of the Intuit Dome on Thursday. The arena will feature a double-sided Halo video board with 44,000-square feet of LED lights, plus technology that allows fans to purchase concessions and automatically be charged without using cash or cards.

Inside of LA Clippers new arena.

Source: LA Clippers

The Clippers estimate the Intuit Dome will generate roughly $260 million in annual economic activity for Inglewood, including over 7,000 full-time and part-time jobs. The Clippers also committed to a $100 million community benefits package that will include investments in after-school programs, services for seniors, libraries and housing. An official groundbreaking of the Intuit Dome will be held Friday afternoon.

“We’ve designed a product that I’m very proud of,” Ballmer told CNBC. “But we’re sitting here celebrating, and we’ve got three years before this thing is done,” he added. “We’re just at a milestone along the way.”

Ballmer said the exterior design of the arena is symbolic of a basketball splashing through a net. He also expressed enthusiasm about using the National Football League concept via “pioneering the feel of end-zone suites.” The Intuit Dome will leverage four courtside cabanas directly behind the courtside baseline where Ballmer is seated. It will also include 10 backstage bungalows — private suites on the floor level.

“This stadium is about being optimistic about our team,” Ballmer said.

“It’s about being optimistic about our fans — get in the building, pump up, make energy,” Ballmer added, clapping his hands as if he just experienced a game-winning shot. “Your energy can feed our team to greater success.”

‘Home-court advantage’

The Intuit Dome didn’t come cheap.

Aside from the over $1 billion cost, the former Microsoft CEO paid $66.2 million for the land and $400 million in cash to purchase the Forum in Inglewood from Madison Square Garden Co. last year. It freed Ballmer from legal battles with MSG, the company led by fellow NBA team owner James Dolan, that threatened construction. 

The Forum was previously home to the Lakers, where the club played from 1967-1999. MSG purchased The Forum for $23.5 million in 2012.

The Clippers will also capitalize on more team revenue with their building. The team makes roughly $262 million, according to Forbes. Intuit Dome will help increase that figure once it opens.

Zucker said the building would be used as an attraction for NBA free agents. In addition, the Intuit Dome will house the Clippers’ business operations and the team practice site, which will be located near the top of the area, with two basketball courts.

“There’s a lot of competition in the NBA. We want to be the place that players want to play,” Zucker said. “This is about home-court advantage.”