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Putting AEG Up For Sale Paralyzed NFL Efforts In Los Angeles

The decision by Phil Anschutz to put his company, AEG, up for sale last year paralyzed its effort to move ahead with plans for an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles, said NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman.
“No owner, and certainly not the NFL, is going to go in and create something that has tremendous value for someone who’s taking the capital and leaving,” Grubman said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mr. Anschutz. He’s smart. He’s got great timing. He’s also resolute.”

Anschutz pulled AEG off the market last month, and the company’s long time CEO Tim Leiweke resigned. Grubman said he’s not sure how Leiweke’s departure will affect AEG’s efforts to get a stadium built in downtown Los Angeles. Leiweke was driving that effort for AEG.

The NFL also has discussed bringing a team to a new stadium at Chavez Ravine near Dodgers Stadium, a new stadium that Ed Roski wants to build east of Los Angeles, and Hollywood Park, a race track in Inglewood.“Whether it’s that (AEG) site or the three or four others we’re looking at, we don’t have to go to L.A., and L.A. doesn’t have to have an NFL franchise,” Grubman said. “We’ll both survive just fine. The different parties are going to have compromise.”

Grubman said the NFL is in a place now where it is willing risk capital and pledge to bring multiple Super Bowls to Los Angeles if a stadium is built. But for a deal to get done, developers are going to have to change their proposals.

“If that developer or developers wants to get the lion’s share of the profit up front, we’re just never going to make a deal,” Grubman said. “We’ll keep looking, and we have some level of optimism about the different sites, but there has to be a fundamental change in mindset so there’s an ability to meet in the middle.”

Without a change in the developers’ perspective, Grubman said no NFL owners would be motivated to make a deal to move their team to Los Angeles. He added, “And you can imagine if an NFL owner hasn’t been attracted, what’s the probability the league is going to be attracted as the deal maker? It’s somewhere between zero and negative infinity.”

Grubman rejected the idea that the NFL is not engaged in an effort to bring a team to Los Angeles. He said the city remains an important opportunity for the NFL, and that the league will continue to spend time exploring whether it can put a team there, but that significant progress hasn’t been made in recent years and that won’t happen until developers change their proposals.

“My only regret is that we keep working on it without significant progress,” Grubman said. “It’s not that we haven’t done a deal. You do a deal if it’s a good deal. We have a situation where it’s tantalizing and it’s important enough that we’ll keep devoting resources to it, but I would say it’s the same sites pretty much that have been in and around for a while.”
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