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Talking Hotels and Hockey With AEG CEO Tim Leiweke

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, June 18, 2009, at 07:46AM
Tim Leiweke Eric Richardson [Flickr]

AEG CEO Tim Leiweke at a recent press conference where the NBA announced Los Angeles as the site of its 2011 All-Star Game.

A half hour before the Lakers 2009 NBA Championship parade got underway, I asked AEG CEO Tim Leiweke how it felt to be taking part in the festivities amidst L.A. Live, the $2-billion entertainment complex he helped to build.

"Two words," he told me. "Stanley Cup."

When the Lakers last won a championship in 2002, the land now home to L.A. Live was a sea of parking lots. Today, the complex is rapidly nearing completion. Katsuya, one of two restaurants still under construction, is scheduled to open in a week.

Most of the remaining construction is focused on the west side of the complex, where 1,001 hotel rooms are slated to open in L.A. Live's 54-story tower. The 14-screen Regal Cinema will open its doors on November 15, followed by the hotel conference center on January 13, 2010, and the hotel itself on February 15.

Last time we talked, Leiweke said that not a day goes by where he isn't thinking about a second hotel planned for L.A. Live, a facility that would be slated to rise on the north side of Olympic Boulevard.

"I officially am still thinking about the other hotel everyday," he said Wednesday. "We're working on it. It's a tough, tough economy, especially for hotels. The occupancy rates for Downtown and all of L.A. are way, way down."

It took ten years for the first L.A. Live hotel tower to move from dream to reality. "I'm not sure the other one's going to take us ten years -- hopefully not -- but we are going to get it done."

So what does Leiweke think a realistic timetable might be? "Certainly nothing is going to get built in the next two to three years, and that's the optimistic side," he said. Leiweke, though, is an optimist. "No one thought we would get this one done, either. I tend not to listen to the skeptics, because then nothing gets done."

AEG is landlord for the Lakers, but the company owns another of the Staples Center tenants. Looking forward, Leiweke has one goal for the complex.

"The day we win the NBA Championship and the Stanley Cup in one year, my life is complete."


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