- Aspiration, a California-based online bank that espouses green-friendly business pratices, becomes a founding partner in the Los Angeles Clippers' new arena in a deal valued at more than $300 million.
- As part of the deal, Aspiration's ads will appear on signs throughout the arena and in other co-marketing opportunities.
- Aspiration's green marketing ties nicely with the Clippers' goal to operate the Intuit Dome on a 100% carbon-free basis.
The Los Angeles Clippers added another paying partner for the franchise's planned Inglewood arena, helping to offset its expected $1.2 billion cost.
The National Basketball Association team owned by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Monday it has agreed to a deal with "green" financial services company Aspiration. Under the agreement, Aspiration becomes a founding partner of the team's new arena — Intuit Dome — which broke ground earlier this month with a $500 million-plus naming rights deal with the owner of TurboTax.
Aspiration will be featured in signs around the arena and in other marketing materials, including some that are related to fighting climate change and reducing fans' personal carbon footprints.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but people with knowledge of the agreement told CNBC it eclipses $300 million. Combining this deal with Intuit's contract gives the Clippers more than $800 million in committed revenue for the Intuit Dome, which is scheduled to open in 2024.
Aspiration is based in nearby Marina del Rey, with investors including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Philadelphia 76ers coach (and former Clippers coach) Doc Rivers. Aspiration has raised $450 million to date, according to PitchBook, and entered an agreement to go public via a $2.3 billion SPAC merger with InterPrivate III Financial Partners last month.
Aspiration allows its customers to choose how much they pay for banking services and espouses a mission of combating climate change — it promises, for instance, not to put any money into funding the coal or oil industries.
That mission fits with the Clippers' plan to operate their complex as 100% carbon-free. Intuit Dome will operate as a fully electric arena, and the Clippers said the complex would save nearly 10 million gallons of water per year through conservation and the use of reclaimed water. In addition, the complex will use carpool incentives that the Clippers claim could reduce vehicle trips by 15%, and help the Port of Los Angeles buy 26 electric tugboats to improve local air quality.
"There is a responsibility associated with building the best arena in the world," Ballmer said in a statement. "Aspiration becoming our first founding partner supports the stake we are planting in the ground to make Intuit Dome the most sustainable arena in the world."
As part of the deal, the Clippers and Aspiration will launch a fund to "provide fans with the opportunity to offset their own carbon impact whenever they purchase a ticket" to Intuit Dome events, the two parties said.
In a statement to CNBC, Aspiration co-founder and CEO Andrei Cherny lobbied for more teams to emulate the Clippers and use Aspiration's tech to increase awareness about climate change.
"With this partnership, Aspiration is providing the Clippers with instant access to a range of tools to make the Intuit Dome a first-of-its-kind climate-positive arena," Cherny said. "We hope the Clippers' commitment to sustainability will become the new standard in professional sports."
The Clippers estimate that Intuit Dome will generate roughly $260 million in annual economic activity for Inglewood, including over 7,000 full- and part-time jobs. The team also pledged $100 million to a community benefits package that will include investments in after-school programs, services for seniors, libraries and housing in the area.
The dome is also going to be a technical marvel, with a double-sided Halo video board with 44,000 square feet of LED lights, and technology for fans to purchase concessions and team merchandise without using cash or cards. The tech behind this white-label asset is still up for auction.
The Clippers will open training camp this week to prepare for the 2021-22 NBA season, which begins Oct. 19. The Clippers open the season on the road at Chase Center against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 21.