Steve Lopez to AEG's Phil Anschutz: Thanks for nothing
So what do we have to show for another couple of years of dreaming of the return of the NFL to Los Angeles?
The city got sacked.
This after L.A. city officials — many of them bagging campaign donations from Anschutz Entertainment Group -- scrambled around like cheerleaders, kissing the rings of AEG officials. They wasted countless hours on meetings, analysis, negotiations. Meanwhile, AEG worked state legislators to ease the burden of lawsuits over environmental concerns around the building of a stadium.
And now we have the seldom-seen Phil Anschutz telling us his L.A. point man and head NFL promoter, Tim Leiweke, is out. And AEG, which was for sale, is now off the market. Meaning we're stuck with Anschutz at least a while longer, and prospects for an NFL team don't look so hot. One big stumbling block is that Anschutz has stubbornly insisted on controls neither the NFL nor any team owner would go for.
My favorite quote from an Anschutz Q&A with The Times:
"The state has stepped up and done their part here. The city has stepped up, the mayor, City Council, they've stepped up. What's not commonly known is AEG is the one that spent all the money. We've spent $45 million. I'm not in the practice commonly of writing checks just for the fun of writing them. You do that because you see a business opportunity."
Cry me a river, Phil.
Who else should have been writing the checks but the billionaire owner of AEG?
And by the way, AEG has gotten plenty of charity from the city, with tax breaks on the LA Live/hotel development and another promised for the football stadium. As Anschutz admits in that quote, he wasn't writing those checks out of the goodness of his heart. It was an investment in a potential windfall.
He ought to write one more check to cover all the time wasted by local and state officials who bent over backward trying to deliver on a stadium.
-- Steve Lopez
Photo: AEG abruptly announced on Thursday that it had taken the company off the market and that Philip Anschutz would retain ownership. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times