By Hillel Aron
Someone get me a Drudge Siren: in quite possibly the biggest news to hit this city since the Pantry was closed by health inspectors for one day in 1997, the Wall St. Journal is reporting (behind a pay wall) that right ring Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz is selling AEG, the monumentally large LA-based company that owns the Staples Center, L.A. Live, Coachella, the LA Kings, the LA Galaxy, half of the LA Lakers, half of City Hall, and probably the very ground beneath our feet, or at least half of it.
All of that is now for sale.
As Dr. Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute, once told me:
One of the things I’ve been trying to explain to people is that the business structure of LA is really just AEG. And then Eli Broad gets out of bed from time to time and issues a pronouncement, and then people have to go to the opera. They really want to go to Laker games.
Just who will buy such a monstrous company? Will it be broken up into pieces? Is there a buyer already?What about the great and powerful Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG, who has a direct line to the mayor and every city councilman? Will stay on as the head? Did Leiweke and Anschutz have some sort of falling out? Was it over the proposal to build a football stadium in the heart of Downtown LA? And why now, when everything was going so well, the proposed stadium cruising through City Hall and Coachella rapidly expanding?
So many unanswered questions.
While the city stands in a state (and cities usually are in states) of unadulterated shock and fear, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appeared unperturbed at the news of the entire business establishment being offered up for sale like so many used sweatshirts on eBay. Dakota Smith reports in the Daily News:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was aware “for some time” that AEG was going up for sale. In a statement released by Villaraigosa’s office, the mayor stated that he speaks regularly to Anschutz Company head Phil Anschutz and AEG President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke.
“I have the commitment from both of them that this won’t affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future,” Villaraigosa said, “And so will not affect my support for moving ahead with Farmers Field and the Convention Center site.”
Asked if the mayor should have told the public about the potential for a sale, the mayor’s spokesman, Peter Sanders, said that Villaraigosa stood by his statement.
Yes, what did the mayor know, and when did he know it? The people have the right to know the truth.
Over in the opinion section of the Daily News, columnist Vincent Bonsignore speculates that the sale has to do with Anschutz’s supposed ambivalence at buying a team in the NFL, a like with a lot of socialist ideas like profit sharing. But wouldn’t it have just been easier for Anschutz to tell Leiweke no, rather than selling off god knows how many stadiums and teams and toys?
Hold on tight Los Angeles. Shit’s about to get sold.