Clippers Training Center Press Conference Transcript
:: Opening Statements ::
Thank you for coming and good afternoon. It is a great day for the Clippers, for me, and I am happy to announce that the Clippers have selected Playa Vista as the location for our new training site. Before I tell you more about this exciting project there are two people who I need to thank and acknowledge. The first is our owner Donald T. Sterling who has been a driving force in this whole project and its his resources as well as his support that has allowed us to undertake and complete this project. Second is the man beside me who is a very good friend of ours, a die hard Clippers fan, and the President of Playa Vista, Steve Soboroff. His vision, patience, and cooperation has been what helped make all of this happen. This is an exciting process we are in the process of buying two acres at Playa Vista on the Westside. We think it is the best location in all of Southern California to field this project and we couldnt be happier to have found this site and the way its put together. We think we are going to be able to complete a great project in a very short period of time. A little bit about the site itself other than the pictures around us. It is just west of the 405 and on the other side is the Pacific Ocean. The Playa Vista campus is presently home to two of our players, Corey Maggette and Chris Wilcox as well as being in about a four mile radius of where nine of our other players live. We think this will provide a tremendous setting for our players to live and work in the same community. This also excites us for what this means for our players. Its 35,000 sq. ft. zoned and entitled and we are going to use every inch of it. We are going to start doing all this as quickly as we can because we would like to be open by next fall. We intend to provide and construct the best training center for NBA players in this country. Thats what we are going to do."
"Andy, we are excited as well. You were there when I had the first meeting with Donald Sterling on the property. This is a piece of property that the last person who built on it was Howard Hughes. So from Howard Hughes to Donald Sterling. A lot people have said have patience because it takes time to do great things and we are a place of firsts at Playa Vista. Electronic Arts opened up the first studio for the video gaming industry on our property along with 4,000 first residents. Including these companies that we have the first retro-fitted residences with eight foot bathtubs and 13 foot ceilings with big garages as well. Donald and Andy really liked this land so I told Don that I am supposed to think big for Playa Vista because we have been named one of the great new urban communities in the country. I said, Don lets think bigger than this two acres we have 120 acres in this portion of the property that hasnt been developed. I will trade you the whole thing if you give me the Clippers for the 120 acres. I told him to think about it, this is very valuable land, but he wanted to know what to do with it. I said well if I knew do you think I would be trading you for the Clippers? We went back to the original deal which was the two and a half acres and they were wonderful to deal with. The deal had very few ups and down and was handled by our attorney, Steve Dettman. We are excited about it and we think it is going to be a wonderful thing. We look for more firsts as this is a wonderful commitment for the Clippers. The players and coaches are all excited about it and we are happy to have them. So now onto the playoffs!"
:: Q&A Session ::
Q: Is there a current facility that you would like to model after or use as a starting point for to figure out what you guys wanted to build?
Roeser: "We had the opportunity to look at pretty much all of the facilities around the NBA. We like things that have taken place in Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, and with the Lakers so we are going to take the best ideas from all of them and turnout the best center in the NBA."
Soboroff: "Remember we are just selling the land and the Clippers are buying the land and using their money to buy the building. In going through the processes witht the city and legal processes their commitment to quality and making the best NBA facility in the country was clear to us as well as important."
Q: When Mike Dunleavy was hired to my understanding this was basically an agreement that was made. Would this have happened anyway?
Roeser: "This was going to happen anyway. Our commitment to finding a perfect site for a training center predates Mikes existence with the Clippers. I have been looking in what has been an exhausting process but it is something we have got to do, and have been committed to do."
Soboroff: "For $20 million to get the best out of the players and this is a facility that is going to last for a long time. Like the coach said in the L.A. Times, this changes the dynamic of this team and helps the players. For the players that want to get on our waiting list, we currently have 25,000 people on the waiting list for 1200 units. Playa Vista is the place to be. We will be putting the players at the top of the list."
Q: Will you be opening up this facility to some interaction with the community?
Soboroff: "I used to be the parks commissioner to for the city of Los Angeles and we are building two dozen parks in Playa Vista with a plan to build some incredible outdoor basketball facilities that will be somewhat seamless with what the Clippers are doing. I dont know what they are doing but if I was spending $20 million on a gym I wouldnt let anybody in."
Roeser: "Principally this will be provided for our players for their privacy and this is considered their job. In this type of setting it allows them to be comfortable and productive. I think in the off-season we would like to open it up a little bit and do some youth programs there. We will be good citizens. We will be surrounded by things that will allow us to open it up in the summer and I think that is something that we will do."
Soboroff: "Your foundation does great things all over the place."
Q: Do you have any idea how many NBA teams have their own facilities?
Roeser: "Different people have different setups. I can tell you that ours will be the best in the NBA and we are going to have it open by next fall."
Q: When does construction start?
Roeser: "I am not sure when I will put a shovel in the ground but I can tell you that the facility opens on September 1, 2006."
Soboroff: "Technically we are under construction even though the building isnt under construction because the grading is virtually complete, excavation is completed all the way out to the street, and the utilities have been completed."
Roeser: "It is very, very difficult to find the combination of things that we found at Playa Vista. You have clean land that is zoned and entitled, we had a chance to continue working with all of our due diligence during this process and nothing is standing the way to the beginning of this process. I think we will be putting a shovel in the ground before training camp and it will be open by September 1, 2006 which is a Friday and everybody is invited."
Q: When did this transaction start and how long have you been following the Clippers?
Soboroff: "When I was the parks commissioner for Los Angeles the Clippers played in the Sports Arena which was one of our venues. I also played a role in helping the Clippers get into the Staples Center so my kids have grown up with a loyalty to the Clippers. So I have a lot of loyalty with the Clippers and it keeps getting stronger with the years and the promise."
Q: When did the negotiations for this property start?
Soboroff: "Last Friday is when we signed the papers. I started at Playa Vista in 2001 and it was something that Andy had been talking to me about since 2000 when we were scraping to fill this hole for the Clippers. When I got to Playa Vista he called me right away and it has been something that we both looking for."
Roeser: "When I alluded about Steves patience I wasnt kidding. From the very beginning he was somebody I talked to about this process before he even went to work for Playa Vista in terms of helping me find the perfect site. In this particular project after years of prodding and having Steve scour the campus for a site, he finally called and said that he had a place for us sometime last summer. Just to give you an idea of how it works when you find what you think is the perfect opportunity. I looked at that site and the next day I ambushed my owner and told him that there was something that I wanted him to see. Lets call that day one when we went out to see it. Days two, three, and four were spent answering every question that you can possibly imagine about real estate. Lastly on day five we went out to look at it one last time and thats when Steve and Mr. Sterling shook hands. This was all about a year ago."
Soboroff: "We met with the city and then Mayor Hahn as well as multiple committees to see if Los Angeles wanted this facility within the four corners of Los Angeles. We had to then work together collectively which we did."
Q: How important was this facility in luring players to come play for the Clippers?
Roeser: "Lets start with the fact that it will keep the players that we have very happy. I think that they will all be pleased to know that this is happening. I just look at it as another step in the right direction for us. It wasnt done necessarily as a recruiting tool but more as a better atmosphere for our players to prepare for an NBA season. At the same time it will help all of our basketball staff since we will have all of our basketball operations staff located on this site."