Breaking Ground: Auburn addition Breaking Ground: Retractable-roof arena Arena seeks a name fit for a Palace Diamondbacks pick Levy for retail Anschutz leads AEG’s new charge High schoolers get place next to pros Breaking Ground: Steadying Centerplate Shining Star Architects give their take Arenas: 20 years old and counting
SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40
Published February 28, 2005
TED FIKRE, ANSCHUTZ ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
BY DON MURET
Ted Fikre has played a key role in Anschutz Entertainment Group’s rapid ascent in the industry and yet the company’s chief legal counsel doesn’t tout his accomplishments, a rarity in sports business, said his former law partner.
|• Age: 37|
|• Title: Chief legal counsel|
|• Company: Anschutz Entertainment Group|
|• Education: B.A., economics, Princeton University, 1989; law degree, Stanford University, 1994|
|• Career: Assistant economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1989-1991; associate with Latham & Watkins, 1994-1997; vice president and general counsel, Los Angeles Kings and Staples Center, 1997-1999; executive vice president and general counsel, 1999-2000; executive vice president and general counsel, Anschutz Entertainment Group, 2000-present|
|• Family: Wife, Angela; son, Asher, 5; daughter, Serafina, 3; another son on the way in March|
|• Last vacation: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in September|
|• Last book read: "The Progress Paradox" by Gregg Easterbrook|
|• Last movie seen: "Sideways"|
|• Fantasy job: Starting and running a small business with my children in 20 years|
|• Executive most admired: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger|
|• Business advice: Some people excel at talking, and some at listening; some are good thinkers and some are good leaders; some are proficient at numbers and some with words. Many people in the workplace have one or two of these attributes, but few individuals, if any, possess them all. Those who come close are the ones who succeed in business.|
“There have not been many people like Ted that have been involved in all of AEG’s ventures. He’s at the center of all of that stuff, but you probably had to dig around to find the guy.”
Maybe that’s because Fikre’s too busy working on the firm’s multiple projects, whether it’s building new facilities in the United States and Europe, negotiating exclusive deals with Levy Restaurants and Ticketmaster or developing an entertainment district outside Staples Center, AEG’s flagship venue.
“There’s way too much going on for any one person to have their hands in everything,” Fikre said. “Some things I’m not involved in at all. However, the nature of my role has evolved quite a bit. Remember, seven and a half years ago, AEG didn’t exist.”
Fikre, 37, acknowledges that he was in the right place at the right time when he went to work for billionaire Phil Anschutz. Fikre was a first-year associate with Latham & Watkins, one of the world’s largest law firms with 1,600 attorneys, when he represented Anschutz in his acquisition of the Los Angeles Kings in 1994.
“It was a very complicated deal because the Kings’ owner [Bruce McNall] was going through bankruptcy,” Fikre said. “It took one and a half years to get it done. I worked with a partner who gave me way more responsibility than I probably deserved.”
Fikre also was involved in the early stages of the Staples Center development and the negotiations to relocate the Los Angeles Lakers to the new arena, and Anschutz’s option to buy a piece of the Lakers.
“There were a series of transactions, and I was doing a lot of project finance work and mergers and acquisitions,” Fikre said. “Three years into the arena development, Tim Leiweke thought it made sense to bring an attorney in-house. I was familiar with the deals, and as a third-year associate became Tim’s general counsel.”
Staples Center opened as the crown jewel of sports arenas in 1999, and AEG began building upon its properties, constructing Home Depot Center and doing deals to build other MLS facilities in Chicago and New Jersey, and arenas in Kansas City, England and Germany.
“The combination of Phil’s willingness to put his money at risk and Tim’s ambition is a great recipe for growth, and I’m lucky to be along for the ride,” Fikre said.
Fikre credits Leiweke for having faith in his ability to tackle the big deals despite Fikre’s relatively young age.
“Tim wasn’t afraid at all to throw a tremendous amount of responsibility my way even though I was only three years out of law school,” Fikre said. “I learned a lot by trial and error.”