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AEG has been “put up for sale, a move that could reshape the face of sports ownership in Southern California,” according to Hamilton & Vincent of the L.A. TIMES. The Anschutz Co. announced that it is “seeking a buyer for its AEG subsidiary,” which “owns and manages a wide range of sports and entertainment properties,” including the L.A. Live complex, NHL Kings, MLS Galaxy, O2 arena in London, the O2 World Berlin. AEG, which also has a minority stake in the NBA Lakers, has been “negotiating to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles in the hopes of luring a professional team from another city.” Those plans are “expected to proceed.” A sale of AEG would “mark one of the biggest sports and entertainment deals on record.” Anschutz Co. President Cannon Harvey said that the process is “in an early stage and no bidders have been identified.” The company is “being advised by the Blackstone Group, the New York investment bank that represented Frank McCourt in his sale of the Dodgers.” A source said that “one potential bidder for some or all of AEG” is Lakers investor Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong “confirmed in a statement” Tuesday that he is “interested in pursuing a purchase of the company.” AEG officials said that they “would have to be part of any deal.” AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that he and his management team “recently renewed their contracts, which would require any new owner to keep them on or buy them out” (L.A. TIMES, 9/19).
GERMANY WAITS: News that the Anschutz Co. wants to sell AEG generated an "unease feeling" among German Hockey League club Eisbären Berlin, according to Jörg Lubrich of BILD. AEG owns two hockey teams in Germany, Eisbären Berlin and Hamburg Freezers. Eisbären Berlin Managing Dir Peter Lee "tried to calm the situation," and said, "O2 World and Eisbären belong together. We provide the arena with about 30 events, our home games, every year. We are an important renter" (BILD, 9/19).
ALL OR NOTHING: Anschutz Co. execs Tuesday said that they “plan to invite bids from a range of potential buyers, including private-equity firms and global entertainment, leisure or real-estate companies, and expect to wrap up a sale some time next year.” Harvey said that the company “isn't considering selling AEG in pieces.” He said, “We’re focused on selling it whole.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Smith & Das, who first reported Anschutz Co.’s decision to sell AEG, noted the leagues in which company-owned teams play “all would likely need to approve any new owner of AEG’s professional sports holdings” (WSJ.com, 9/18).
FOOTBALL’S FUTURE: In L.A., Dakota Smith wrote, “Despite the assurances from AEG, a sale could complicate plans to build a 72,000-seat stadium in downtown, since the buyer would have to agree to the city's terms over the project.” L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was aware “for some time” that AEG was going up for sale. Villaraigosa, in a statement, said that he “speaks regularly” with AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and Leiweke. Villaraigosa: “I have the commitment from both of them that this won't affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future. And so [it] will not affect my support for moving ahead with Farmers Field and the Convention Center site” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/19). L.A. City Council member Jan Perry said, “The city has been well-negotiated and well-protected. I don't think this is a setback.” In California, Scott Reid noted the “reasons behind the decision to sell AEG were unclear” yesterday. What is “certain” is the price tag for AEG will “likely run well into billions of dollars” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/19). ESPNLA.com’s Arash Markazi noted at some point in the near future, Leiweke will likely “come out and say the day-to-day operations of AEG will not change in the interim and the company remains committed to Farmers Field and bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.” Markazi wrote, “Of course, that commitment is only as strong as the commitment of AEG's new owner. If that person is just as committed to the project as Leiweke is, it will continue; if he or she isn't, well, it will die as so many NFL stadium proposals in L.A. have over the past two decades” (ESPNLA.com, 9/18).
FINISHING THE JOB: In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore wrote, “I never got the feeling Anschutz truly felt the stadium proposal AEG president Tim Leiweke was pushing on him would ever get as far as it has.” Anschutz “kept telling Leiweke that he had his blessing, while never truly thinking Leiweke would navigate through all the political red tape and potholes in his way to actually get it to this point.” Now that Leiweke has “carried the ball to the goal line, maybe Anschutz isn't as ‘in’ as we thought as he's ready to hand it off to someone who is prepared to carry the ball into the end zone” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/19). Also in L.A., T.J. Simers noted considering how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has “brokered deals in the past,” it would not be a surprise if he has “already met and given his full blessings to Soon-Shiong.” If so, it “makes this mega AEG sale all about football and the construction of a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles.” Anschutz has “never really had an interest in football here.” The stadium has “always been Tim Leiweke's baby,” except for “one itty-bitty problem: He's never been the money guy.” The NFL has had “every chance" to go with Majestic Realty Chair Ed Roski's ready-to-build project in the City of Industry, "but obviously it has been waiting for the downtown project to take shape.” When Anschutz “finally agreed to go all in on the stadium, he took it upon himself to negotiate with other NFL owners without Leiweke's assistance” (L.A. TIMES, 9/19).
SELECT INTERNATIONAL AEG ASSETSTEAMSTwo German Hockey League teamsEisbären Berlin (DEL)Hamburg Freezers (DEL)49% ownership of Swedish football club Hammarby IF (Stockholm)VENUES
Brisbane Entertainment Centre (Australia)Lanxess-Arena (Cologne, Germany)Newcastle Entertainment Centre (Australia)Ahoy Arena (Rotterdam, Netherlands)Perth Arena* (Australia)VTB Arena (Moscow, Russia)Suncorp Stadium (Brisbane, Australia)Dynamo Moscow Stadium* (Russia)MasterCard Center (Beijing, China)The Hydro (Glasgow, Scotland)Wukesong Indoor Stadium (Beijing, China)**
Tele2 Arena* (Stockholm, Sweden)***Mercedes- Benz Arena (Shanghai, China)
Ericsson Globe (Stockholm, Sweden)***O2 Arena (London, England)Annexet (Stockholm, Sweden)***O2 World Berlin (Germany)Soderstadion (Stockholm, Sweden)***O2 World Hamburg (Germany)
Hovet (Stockholm, Sweden)***
Volksbank Arena (Hamburg, Germany)Ülker Sports Arena (Istanbul, Turkey)
* Under construction or late stages of development
** Operating rights in a joint venture with the NBA
*** All five of Stockholm's primary sports venues are owned by the city and operated by AEG's Stockholm Globe Arenas subsidiary
EPL West Ham United will try to retain London Olympic Stadium’s triangular floodlight structures despite "plans to remove the arena’s most distinctive feature being considered by London Mayor Boris Johnson," according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. The floodlights, a "landmark of London’s Olympic skyline," could be removed when a new roof is fitted on the stadium. West Ham, who is reported as the front runners to occupy the stadium, wants to "retain the lights" and keep the building "looking as it did during the Olympics." However, engineers drawing up plans for the stadium legacy have "proposed removing the stanchions," which weigh a total of 600 tons, because the cost of retaining them "was considered prohibitive." The current roof only covers 60% of the seats, so "a new structure with full coverage is a prerequisite of its use as a football stadium." The roof is one of a number of issues that "remains to be resolved in negotiations" between the London Legacy Development Corp., which is now chaired by Johnson, and West Ham (TELEGRAPH, 9/19).
Work will begin in a few months on the first houses with "a ringside view" of a British racecourse after Newbury "completed a redevelopment deal," according to Will Hayler of the London GUARDIAN. The deal will see the track paid £42.6M ($55.6M) over 10 years for the sale of three areas of land to developer and builder David Wilson Homes. Although the main racecourse buildings are to "remain largely unchanged," work is to begin shortly on a new center-course car park for racegoers. In '14 and '15, a new "parade ring and improvements to stables and saddling boxes" will be built, along with accommodation for stable staff. The construction of a new bridge, set to open in '15, will "provide improved access" to the racecourse. Newbury Managing Dir Sarah Hordern said, "Completing this deal means we have the final go-ahead to start construction after years of consultation and planning on this project" (GUARDIAN, 9/19).
Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen "ordered 15,000 rain jackets for its fans" because the stadium's roof is "quite holey," according to Kolsberger & Vom Land of BILD. The remodeling of the BayArena "was supposed to be completed more than two weeks ago" ahead of the team's first home game against SC Freiburg on Sep. 1. However, the roof of the stadium is still full of holes, and to make sure its fans will not sit in the rain the club ordered 15,000 rain jackets for its Europa League home game against FC Metalist Kharkiv on Thursday. Club spokesperson Dirk Mesche said, "There is still some joint filling work to be done between the various plate elements. Just the usual finishing touches, but those will be finally completed after Sunday's Bundesliga game against Mönchengladbach" (BILD, 9/18).