Anschutz Entertainment Group, the owner of the Staples Center arena and the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, and the top contender to build a stadium and bring the NFL back to Los Angeles, is up for sale, its parent company said Tuesday.
The Denver-based Anschutz Co. said in a statement that it is "commencing a process" to sell the subsidiary known as AEG and had hired Blackstone Advisory Partners as an adviser.
It wasn't immediately clear how far along the company is in the sale process, or whether it has entertained any offers, but the price for AEG could be well into the billions.
The sale would mean a major ground shift in sports and entertainment in Los Angeles and around the world.
AEG's holdings also include pro soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, part-ownership of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, and major entertainment and real estate holdings in downtown Los Angeles. Outside of L.A., AEG owns Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo and New York's Barclay's Center, the new home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets. It also owns arenas in Sweden, China and Australia.
The sale would also throw uncertainty into LA's nearly two-decade attempt to bring the NFL back to the city. The City Council is considering the approval of plans for Farmers Field, a downtown stadium proposed by AEG.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he has long known of the possibility of a sale, and both Denver billionaire Phillip Anschutz and AEG President Tim Leiweke have assured him the city's NFL hopes will remain the same.
"I have worked with both Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke for years to bring a football team to Los Angeles. I speak to both of them on a regular basis and I have known about this potential sale for some time," the mayor said in a statement Tuesday night. "I have the commitment from both of them that this won't affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future and so will not affect my support for moving ahead with Farmers Field."
Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes the proposed stadium site, said she did not know about a pending sale but agreed that it wouldn't have adverse effects on courting an NFL team.
"The city has done a good job of protecting the taxpayer's interest in negotiating an agreement," Perry told The Associated Press, "so whoever steps into the shoes of Mr. Anschutz will have the same obligations."
Perry said the move "arguably is very positive" because she suspected it could lead to an enthusiastic new partner anxious to get in on the city's NFL prospects.
The potential sale was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
AEG transformed the Los Angeles landscape with the building of Staples Center and the later addition of the LA Live entertainment complex, helping to revitalize the city's long-neglected downtown and bring new energy and several championships to its sports teams.
Opening in 1999, the Staples Center is among the world's busiest arenas. It hosted six playoff games in four days for its main tenants – the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, and the NHL's Kings, who won their first Stanley Cup in June.