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Are you ready for some football? One LA billionaire is

By Jose Martinez
Published: Wednesday, April 04, 2012, at 10:41AM
tim leiweke Eric Richardson/KPCC

AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke, pictured above at an L.A. Live event in 2008, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that billionaire Philip Anschultz is willing to buy an entire NFL team if it will make AEG's proposed downtown stadium deal work. (Eric R

A football team in Los Angeles is all of a sudden looking like a reality again, thanks to a man who Forbes estimates is worth around $7 billion.

Philip Anschultz, the developer behind a proposed football stadium in downtown L.A. is willing to buy an entire NFL team – as opposed to just part of one – if it will make the stadium deal work and if he can reach a "win-win," said Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of Anschultz Entertainment Group (AEG) to the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

"Phil is now completely engaged in this process," said Leiweke to the Times. "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 Anschultz, he is prepared to write that check now."

That check would depend, of course, on the pending environmental impact report scheduled to be released on Thursday that would include, for example, measures to ease traffic congestion the new stadium would cause, reports NBC Los Angeles. The report will be approximately 13,000 pages long.

Should the report be approved, said the Times, the proposed downtown stadium site will be on a level playing field with another proposal by the City of Industry by 2013, which Leiweke says is the soonest the NFL would make a decision on a site anyway.

There are no NFL teams for sale right now – the most recent one to be bought was the Jacksonville Jaguars in November 2011 for $760 million. Leiweke and other AEG executives had previously said Anschultz would be willing to buy up to 50 percent of an NFL franchise.

Leiweke addressed concerns by the NFL about "asset stripping" – the Times said that NFL executives don't want AEG to handle marketing of the team and dealings with premium customers. The league wants to leave that, instead, to the principal owner. Leiweke said AEG was willing to be flexible, although wasn't clear on what that arrangement would look like, with a team owner also owning part of the stadium.

"But we know how to get to the end of this game now," he told the Times. "But what Mr. Anschultz 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.'"

Photo by Eric Richardson via Flickr Creative Commons.


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