LOS ANGELES — Simultaneous announcements that Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group has been pulled off the market and the resignation of president and chief executive Tim Leiweke fueled speculation about the future of a professional football stadium proposed for downtown Los Angeles.
"The fact that AEG is no longer for sale will bring certainty in the marketplace and greater clarity," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who heads the Ad Hoc Committee on Downtown Stadium and Convention Center Renovations. "I think it's a positive for Farmers Field."
Leiweke, who has served as president and chief executive officer of AEG since 1996, has acted as the public face of AEG throughout negotiations with the city council over a proposal to build Farmers Field football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. He also oversaw the development of the multi-billion dollar four-million-square-foot L.A. Live project adjacent to the Staples Center, home of two pro basketball teams — the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers — and the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings.
When AEG announced the proposed sale of the company on Sept. 18, Leiweke reassured council members that he and other members of the executive team had just signed five-year contracts.
Ten days later, the City Council voted in favor of the $1 billion plans to build a 1.7-million-square-foot football stadium adjacent to L.A. Live on the site of the city's West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The project includes plans for a 90,000-square-foot expansion of the convention center's South Hall to replace the West Hall at a cost of $314 million using funds provided by AEG.
Perry's ad hoc committee hasn't met since late September, just before the City Council voted in favor of the proposal. Under the financing plan, the city would issue between $193.5 million and $228.6 million in lease revenue bonds, as well as between $93.4 million and $109.7 in Mello Roos bonds, which cities can issue by creating special tax districts.
"He had a good team in place that is moving up in the hierarchy, so I expect this to be seamless," Perry said.
Dan Beckerman, AEG's chief financial officer and chief operating officer, will take on Leiweke's role. Philip Anschutz, chairman of AEG, will take on a more active role in the company's day-to-day operations, with a particular focus on the company's world-wide strategy and operations, according to a release.
"The company has a number of interesting business opportunities, and the expertise of the management team and our 26,000 employees around the world will allow us to select those prospects that best enhance the company's performance," Beckerman said. "Priority projects going forward include the development of Farmer's Field adjacent to our L.A. Live campus and the pursuit of our plan to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles."
Anschutz said in the release that from "the beginning of the sales process, we have made it clear to our employees and partners throughout the world that unless the right buyer came forward with a transaction on acceptable terms we would not sell the company."
The Wall Street Journal speculated that bidders didn't match the $10 billion offer Anschutz was seeking.
Leiweke, whose last day was Thursday, could not be reached for comment. According to the company's release, Leiweke's decision to leave the company was by mutual agreement.
"We appreciate the role Tim has played in the development of AEG, and thank him for the many contributions he has made to the company," Anschutz said in a statement.
Perry said: "Tim's vision of the project moving forward will be of great benefit to city of Los Angeles should it come to fruition."
Construction on the project won't start until AEG signs a football team. It missed a six-week window set by the NFL in January for teams to apply for a move to Los Angeles.
Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said: "We continue to monitor all stadium developments and remain interested in multiple sites in the Los Angeles area."