AEG's Tim Leiweke sorry sale announcement caused 'disruption'
The top executive of the firm proposing to develop an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles apologized to city lawmakers Monday for “the disturbance and the disruption” caused by last week's announcement that the company is being sold.
Faced with questions from council members nervous about entering into a contract with a company that's up for sale, Anschutz Entertainment Group President Tim Leiweke told a Los Angeles City Council committee that he and his management team have signed new “long-term contracts” to keep working at AEG. He said it was better that city officials knew about the potential sale before voting later this week on the company's proposal to build a $1.2-billion football stadium on city land next to the Convention Center.
Leiweke also said a new owner will help the company secure an NFL football team.
“Let me apologize for the disturbance and the disruption of the process,” Leiweke told the Ad Hoc Committee on the Proposed Downtown Stadium and Event Center. "That’s my fault. I take full blame for that.”
News that Anschutz Co. was looking to spin off AEG, its sports and entertainment subsidiary, was first reported by the Wall Street Journal last Tuesday. The company, which is headed by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, confirmed the rumors later that day.
Leiweke didn’t say whether the company had planned to release the information or whether its hand was forced by media reports. But he said it was good the information came out before the council’s vote on the stadium agreements, scheduled for Friday.
“What we have told people is that we would prefer this come out before you vote than after you vote,” Leiweke said. “No matter what kind of disruption we may have created by the announcement coming out when it did, far better to get it out there in advance of your vote so you know this is a process Mr. Anschutz is currently going through.”
Leiweke said Anschutz would be 128 years old by the time the company’s proposed 55-year land lease with the city would expire. “We were going to go through a sale inevitably,” he said.
"Having an owner that is going to see this as a long-term marathon and a long-term commitment is far better than thinking that Mr. Anschutz at some point or another in the near future would be seeking an exit strategy," he said.
-- Kate Linthicum and David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall