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Kings Move Would Bring Team Back to Leiweke's Market

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011, at 12:43PM
Tim Leiweke Eric Richardson [Flickr]

AEG CEO Tim Leiweke

When the Los Angeles Lakers take the court tonight in Sacramento to close out their season, it may well be for the last game the Kings play in California's capital city. The team is in talks to move to Anaheim, a change that would place them in competition with the Lakers and Clippers for Southern California's fanbase.

It wouldn't be the first time AEG CEO Tim Leiweke has taken on the Kings. As a young soccer executive, he helped push the NBA team out of the midwest.

Today Leiweke is landlord for the two L.A. NBA teams, head of the company that developed Staples Center and L.A. Live and is currently trying to build a billion-dollar NFL stadium next door.

In his 20's, though, Leiweke was general manager and then president of the Kansas City Comets, a member of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The team shared Kemper Arena arena with the then-Kansas City Kings from 1981 to 1985.

While soccer has struggled to make major inroads in the United States, Leiweke's marketing touch struck gold in Kansas City. In 1984, the Comets averaged nearly 16,000 fans per game as the Kings struggled to hit 6,000.

"We sell our games to the fans as an evening of entertainment, not just what happens on the playing field," he told the New York Times in March of that year.

The Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985, citing flagging attendance, and Leiweke left to head up marketing for the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in 1988.

25 years later, the two may again be back in the same market.

Just for fun, here's a 1991 video looking back on the Comets first ten years:

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