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Philip Anschutz committed to bringing NFL back to L.A., aide says

April 02, 2012|By Sam Farmer
  • Philip Anschutz is the principal owner of AEG.
Philip Anschutz is the principal owner of AEG. (Andrew Gombert / EPA )

AEG billionaire Philip Anschutz is committed to the idea of an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles and is willing to buy an entire team -- as opposed to just a part of one -- in order to make the deal work, his top executive said Monday.

"Phil is now completely engaged in this process," said Tim Leiweke, AEG's president and chief executive. "And the only thing he won't do is get leveraged to the point of doing a stupid deal on a team. But if this is about finding a win-win for the NFL and Phil Anschutz, he is prepared to write that check now, subject to getting done with the [environmental impact report]."

That 13,000-page report is scheduled to be released Thursday, meaning the public-comments portion of the process could finish by July. That would trigger a 175-day window during which all EIR-related legal challenges would be resolved. That would put the proposed downtown site on equal footing with a fully entitled City of Industry proposal by March 2013, which, according to Leiweke, is the soonest the NFL would make a decision on a site.

Leiweke, who along with other AEG executives met with Times editors and writers Monday, had previously said Anschutz was willing to buy up to 50% of an NFL franchise.

There are no NFL teams for sale now, with the most recent such transaction coming in November when Shad Khan purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars for $760 million.

Leiweke said AEG is also willing to be flexible on how a deal would be structured in order to address the league's concern about "asset stripping." NFL owners and executives have said they are not interested in having AEG -- as opposed to the principal owner -- handle such issues as the marketing of the team and dealings with premium customers.

"One of the ideas we've agreed to is, take the team and take the stadium and put it all into the same pool. We'll do that," he said. "There’s no debate anymore about asset stripping."

He said AEG has yet to work out the specific details of how that arrangement might look, with a team owner also owning part of the stadium, but that it underscores AEG’s willingness to be flexible on its original proposal.

"We do have an understanding of how we get to the finish line here," Leiweke said. "Does that mean we have an agreement on a team? No. Does that mean we have a valuation that we agree on? No.

"But we know how to get to the end of this game now. But what Mr. Anschutz has said is, 'Get past your obstacles ... and if you get clear of that, I'll get in a room and make a deal with the NFL.'"

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Philip Anschutz says he is committed to bringing NFL back to L.A.

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