For more than two years, Los Angeles city officials have been negotiating with Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a downtown stadium and bring a pro football team, or perhaps two, to the city. Now, with less than two weeks to go before the city is poised to give the project final environmental approval, the owner of AEG, Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, has decided to unload the company.
That's an unsettling turn of events, and before the City Council moves forward, it should demand a full explanation of the timing and ramifications of the sale, as well as assurances that the city's interests will be protected.
Tuesday's announcement that AEG is on the block took most city officials by surprise. Not all, however. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he had been apprised of the possibility and was confident that it would not "affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future." That's all well and good for the mayor, but by keeping that information to himself, he denied other officials the opportunity to consider the implications of an ownership change. Villaraigosa's decision to stay mum has infuriated some City Council members, who complained of being kept in the dark.