“As a general principle, sports arenas are not engines of economic growth,” Zimbalist said. “But there’ll be gentrification -- that’s a standard problem -- and people who are renting in those areas tend to pay the price.”

Inglewood is a familiar sight to passengers landing at Los Angeles International Airport. The historically African-American city lost some of its buzz when the Lakers left the Forum, where they dominated the National Basketball Association during their 1980s “showtime” era.

But it’s in the middle of an ambitious renewal program -- and is experiencing the skyrocketing rents and shortage of affordable housing that go with it, as landlords rush to cash in on the suddenly hot market, local housing rights activists say.

“The Clippers arena proposal is a too-common example of a community bearing the burden of development in our state without sharing in the benefits,” retired U.S. senator Barbara Boxer said in a statement this month. Boxer is working with an affordable-housing group called Uplift Inglewood, which has sued the city to block the arena. Madison Square Garden said that it has donated to the California Community Foundation, which supports Uplift Inglewood, but that it isn’t involved in the litigation.

The company spent $100 million to buy and convert the Forum, which for years had been used as a church, to a live music venue and reopened it in 2014 with an Eagles concert. Across the street, on the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack, Stan Kroenke is building a $5 billion National Football League stadium that will be home to the Rams and the Chargers. There’s a brand new, $350 million soccer stadium in L.A., and the Coliseum, where the Rams now play, just finished a $315 million renovation.

The Clippers, which Ballmer bought for $2 billion the same year the Forum reopened, hope to add their arena to the building spree in time for the 2024-2025 season, when they lose their lease at the Staples Center.

And, they say, MSG is doing everything it can to stop them.

The witness who changed her testimony is Melanie McDade-Dickens, a top aide to Mayor James Butts. She was put on administrative leave this summer in an unrelated matter. In September, McDade-Dickens made 148 changes to answers she had given under oath in the litigation. Her testimony now supports MSG’s allegations.

It gets stranger. Inglewood claims McDade-Dickens’s lawyer, Carl Douglas, a veteran of the O.J. Simpson defense team, threatened the city during its investigation of McDade-Dickens, warning that she could always recant her testimony.

“You guys ought to treat my client nice,” he said in a September interview that was part of the probe, according to court filings. “MSG is going to be her best friend.”