Days out from the announcement that AEG is up for sale, speculation is in full swing as to who will scoop up the entertainment empire at the heart of the effort to lure the NFL back to Los Angeles.
Possible bidders for AEG, which owns the Staples Center and has a stake in three LA professional sports teams, include a biotech billionaire as well as a sports mogul and several entertainment giants Dodgers fans will recognize from the Blue Crew’s sale earlier this year.
Denver-based Anschutz Co.’s putting itself on the block has further complicated the plan to bring a professional football team to Los Angeles – an undertaking that’s been more speculative than solid.
And it’s raised questions that may be left unanswered for months. Will the new buyers be keen on the NFL-in-LA project? How much longer will LA football fans have to wait for the plan to finally come to fruition?
Owner Philip Anschutz, 72, said in April he was willing to buy an NFL team. His company already owns the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy and a minority stake in the LA Lakers.
But now that he’s on his way out, what does that mean for the future of an NFL franchise?
Here’s a look at the potential bidders who may finally push the plan along:
- Billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, 60, was raised in apartheid South Africa by Chinese immigrant parents. He finished high school at age 16 and became a doctor at age 23. Forbes estimates his net worth at $7.3 billion, which he earned, in part, by simultaneously building and selling two successful drug companies. Soon-Shiong is no stranger to LA sports. He owns a minority stake in the Lakers and tried, unsuccessfully, to acquire the Dodgers earlier this year.
- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was also in the running to acquire the Dodgers, but pulled out as the price increased. Now, Cuban – whose estimated net worth is pegged at $2.3 billion – is reported to be flirting with another attempt at LA sports ownership. The media mogul greatly benefited from the dot-com boom after he sold audio and video portal Broadcast.com to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999. Since then he’s had his hand in cable channel AXS (also owned, in part, by Anschutz), Landmark Theatres and Magnolia Pictures.
- Guggenheim Partners LLC, whose CEO was part of the group that acquired the LA Dodgers in a $2.15 billion deal earlier this year.
- Colony Capital, an LA-based real-estate investment firm that acquired film studio Miramax for about $660 million in 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Madison Square Garden Inc., which owns NBA's New York Knicks, WNBA's New York Liberty, NHL's New York Rangers and AHL's Connecticut Whale hockey teams as well as cable television channels.
- Television giant Comcast, which in 2011 acquired majority stake in NBCUniversal.
- Media and entertainment company Liberty Media Corp which owns interest in SiriusXM, Live Nation, Time Warner Inc. and Viacom.
Whoever picks up the entertainment empire will have to have deep pockets. AEG’s buildings alone – which include the Staples Center and LA Live – are worth in excess of $2 billion, according to Forbes.
Sources close to the deal say AEG has indicated privately that it expects to sell for $5 billion to $7 billion, though no official price has been set, according to the Los Angeles Times.