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Inglewood Officials Call Lawsuit Over Proposed Clippers Arena A 'Sham'

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- An attorney for the city of Inglewood, as well as Inglewood Mayor James Butts, Tuesday described a lawsuit filed by Forum owner Madison Square Garden (MSG) as a "sham."

Madison Square Garden filed a lawsuit in March challenging Inglewood's effort to build an arena to house the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We plan to defend the lawsuit vigorously," said Inglewood attorney Skip Miller. "And I look forward to our day in court."

The lawsuit accuses Butts of deceiving MSG into relinquishing a long-term lease and purchase option for 15 acres of city-owned land used for overflow parking by claiming it was needed for a planned "technology park."

According to the lawsuit, the city instead engaged in secret talks with the Clippers about a possible new arena "using the very same land MSG Forum had leased for parking."

Miller disputed the claim during a news conference Tuesday morning, saying "there's no exclusivity for a concern venue in the city of Inglewood," going on to refer to the lawsuit as a "sham."

Forum officials issued a statement in response comments made by Butts and Miller, saying they "support the fundamental allegations in our complaint."

The lawsuit argues that MSG Forum initially discussed with Inglewood's mayor the option of moving the Clippers to the Forum when the team's lease at Staples Center expires. That proposal, however, never advanced.

The suit goes on to accuse Butts of then engaging in secret talks with the team to build a separate arena.

The lawsuit seeks a court order blocking further talks between the city and the Clippers, reinstatement of the Forum's parking lease on the proposed arena property and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The Clippers' Staples Center lease expires in 2024.

(©2018 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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