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Departing AEG chief Tim Leiweke seen as political force in L.A.

March 14, 2013 |  1:04 pm

Los Angeles developer Steve Soboroff had only fond memories Thursday of working with downtown business figure Tim Leiweke, as officials announced he would be leaving his post as chief executive of Anschutz Entertainment Group by mutual agreement with its owner.

Soboroff, an early backer of AEG's Staples Center in downtown, said Leiweke brought a spark when he arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1990s to push the project forward for Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz.

“The minute Tim came out here the whole dynamic changed,” Soboroff said. “It went from a stadium deal to the first step in a larger vision of reshaping the sports and hospitality business in downtown and the rest of Los Angeles. And he implemented it.”

AEG: A look back

Leiweke’s impact stretched far beyond the business world, Soboroff said. “He created the company. He grew the company. He operated the company. And in order to do that he became a political and philanthropic force.”

When Soboroff, an advisor to the California Science Center, was looking for backers to help bring the Space Shuttle Endeavor to Los Angeles, he turned to Leiweke. The executive pledged more than $1 million in AEG foundation money to help make it happen.

“Tim was early to the table in recognizing the importance of Endeavor to Los Angeles,” Soboroff said. “Tim’s a big player in the world of philanthropy in Los Angeles.”

PHOTOS: AEG properties in Southern California

He said Leiweke and Anschutz were “a great team.” “There was a great synergy between the two of them, and it created a lot of jobs and raised a lot of money and made L.A. a better place.”

Soboroff described Leiweke as “warm, funny and honest,” and said he hopes he stays in L.A.

“There aren’t enough people like Tim here,” he said.

City Councilman Mitchell Englander said Leiweke is a coalition-builder who has a unique ability to bring diverse groups together.

During negotiations to build the proposed Farmers Field downtown football stadium, Leiweke included not only city officials but also labor leaders and neighbors who would be affected by the development, Englander said. He also worked to address concerns by some that the deal could leave taxpayers in the lurch.

“He was really very unique to bring folks together in large controversial projects,” Englander said. “Tim’s leaving will leave a void. Those are big shoes to fill.”


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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall