Billionaire Philip Anschutz is now on board with his namesake company’s plan to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles – he just wants some conditions met before he plunks down the cash.
That’s according to Anschutz’s top deputy in Los Angeles, Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group. In an interview with the Business Journal last week about AEG’s $1 billion stadium proposal, Leiweke said Anschutz, who made his fortune in oil and telecommunications, has been involved in many of the key decisions about the plan, including selection of the three stadium design finalists.
“He’s very enthusiastic about the project,” Leiweke said, adding that the Denver tycoon has discussed the matter with some of his friends who own National Football League teams.
But given his frustrations over previous plans he’s worked on to bring a football team to Los Angeles, Leiweke said his boss won’t sign any checks until four conditions are met:
• Agreements with various corporations for naming rights and other sponsorships that would bring in tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.
• A commitment from Los Angeles city officials for speedy approvals and $350 million in bonds to replace the West Hall of the city-owned Los Angeles Convention Center that would be torn down to make way for the stadium.
• A commitment from an NFL team to move to Los Angeles.
• A commitment from the NFL itself to approve an L.A. team.
Leiweke said that AEG is trying to meet three of these four conditions by a self-imposed March deadline; the agreement from the league would likely have to wait for the owners to conclude negotiations with players over a new contract.
The corporate sponsorships are perhaps the most crucial element for Anschutz, since they represent the revenue stream that would pay back his huge up-front financial commitment.
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that AEG was close to terms with Farmers Insurance Group for stadium naming rights. Financial terms were not disclosed, though sources told the Los Angeles Times that AEG was seeking a 30-year deal starting at $20 million a year.
Leiweke did not confirm or deny those reports. He would only say that a deal for naming rights and several deals for “founding partner” sponsorships would be announced in the coming weeks.
The AEG proposal is in competition with Majestic Realty Co., which has been trying to bring a football team to a stadium it wants to build in City of Industry.
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