Today, the City Council voted 12-0 to approve AEG’s plans to build a gigantic football stadium in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, despite the fact that Phil Anschutz is trying to sell AEG and despite the fact that, as Dakota Smith recently reported, a group of architects have called for a redesign of the new convention center, which is an integral part of the new stadium.
Yes, today, City Council bravely said, “TO HELL WITH ALL THAT WE WANT MORE SPORTS!” And why not? Half the city seems to be clamoring for it, the other half doesn’t care, and besides, look who was there today – the great and powerful Tim Leiweke, the tall and funny Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the richer-than-God Patrick Soon-Shiong, who told Reuters he wants to buy AEG to “promote health.” Uh, whatever you say, rich guy!
Council members could hardly contain themselves as they waited half the day to give the project their final approval. Councilman Paul Koretz said, “This is probably the most important decision that any of us will make in our political careers.” Councilman, I’d venture to say this is the most important decision anyone has made in the history of the known universe.
In what would appear to be breaking news (if you can call something that might be about to happen breaking news), Reuters is reporting that the richest man in Los Angeles, Patrick Soon-Shiong, is planning on making a bid for Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG, the LA-based sports and entertainment empire that owns LA Live, the Staples Center, Coachella, most of our sports teams, and basically everything north of the 10 freeway. AEG also plans on building a football stadium in Downtown LA.
But who just who is this Soon-Shiong, a man whose fame pales in comparison to the Broads and Carusos, even though his fortune towers over theirs? Here, then, is your Patrick Soon-Shiong Fact sheet:
• According to Forbes, Soon-Shiong, 60, is worth $7.3 billion with a b, making him the 47th richest American (full list here), only three spots behind Philip Anschutz himself, and eight spots ahead of Eli Broad, the second-richest Angeleno.
• Born in South Africa to Chinese immigrants fleeing the country during World War II, Soon-Shiong studied hard, graduated from Medical School at the age of 23 and became a surgeon (his dad had been a village doctor in China).
Did City Hall get played? So asks Steve Lopez in the LA Times this morning, wondering “if Anschutz’s plan all along was to drive up the price of his company by first having L.A. city officials sweeten the package — and state legislators pitching in, too — by laying the groundwork for the return of football to L.A.”
An interesting theory, one that, as Dakota Smith pointed out, the National Resource defense council’s David Petit, a key Farmer’s Field ally, agreed with:
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.