A Kia Forum sign was in place outside the Inglewood arena as of Thursday morning. Details of the partnership weren’t immediately apparent, nor was it clear if the venue would continue to be “presented by Chase,” a holdover from when the building was owned by Madison Square Garden Entertainment.
Representatives for The Forum and Kia declined to comment.
The former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings, The Forum has become an extremely popular and lucrative concert venue in the country’s second-largest market. Upcoming shows at the arena include Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Pearl Jam and an AEW wrestling event.
Ballmer purchased The Forum two years ago for a reported $400 million. Bolstered by good acoustics and an open calendar without a resident sports team, the 17,800-seat venue was the second-highest grossing arena in the U.S. for touring events and festivals in 2019, according to Billboard, trailing only Madison Square Garden. The Forum’s pre-pandemic 12-month gross, as of September 2019, was $104.9 million.
The news comes just a few months after Staples Center, the current home of the Lakers, Kings and Clippers, was renamed Crypto.com Arena in a 20-year naming rights deal worth a reported $700 million. The economics will vary for venues that aren’t routinely hosting televised events—much of the value for naming rights to an NBA arena, for example, is the fact that name gets mentioned during 82 popular televised events each year.
It’s also unclear how long the Kia deal runs, a detail that might shed some light on Ballmer’s plans for the venue. The Clippers recently broke ground on a brand new $1.8 billion arena around the corner from The Forum, and it’s unclear if Ballmer would opt to have the two competing for similar acts once the Intuit Dome opens in 2024.
Asked in September about The Forum, Ballmer told Sportico that it was too soon to make a decision about its future, but said between the two venues, he expects his Inglewood arenas to be hosting more than 100 non-basketball events per year.
Kia’s sports sponsorship portfolio includes FIFA, the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal and the NBA. It also has naming rights to the Kia Arena, an open-air tennis venue that is part of Melbourne Park, host of the Australian Open.