The Kings, and the AEG empire

Yesterday’s news that AEG is being put up for sale, by Phil Anschutz and the Anschutz Corporation, is certain to remain a huge story in the sports/entertainment world for months to come. There’s already published speculation that the sale could reach multiple billions of dollars, and that wouldn’t be stunning, given the wide-reaching arms of AEG. Somewhere, some time, there’s an amazing book to be written about the rise of AEG, and it all started with the Kings.

Anschutz’s purchase of the Kings out of bankruptcy (along with partner Ed Roski) in 1995 started the AEG ball rolling. A further part-ownership investment in the Lakers greased the wheels for the opening of Staples Center. The success of Staples Center led AEG to get into the concert-promotion business, as well as explore arena development and management in other cities. Now, AEG Live is a giant in the concert industry, and AEG owns/operates buildings in every corner of the world. Staples Center also led to the development of L.A. Live. AEG’s purchase of the Kings was its first step into the ownership of pro sports teams, which eventually led to the purchase of the Galaxy — and, by extension, the building of Home Depot Center — and several professional teams in Europe. AEG later branched out to own music festivals and into other areas.

It’s sort of fitting, then, that the Kings won the Stanley Cup in the same year that Anschutz chose to cut ties with AEG. It’s full-circle, in a way. The Kings, one could say, made the construction of the empire possible. Now, they are one piece of what figures to be a massive transaction. It’s impossible to predict what the future holds for AEG and, by extension, the Kings. As noted yesterday, there’s unlikely to be much short-term impact on the Kings. That said, there’s absolutely no sense in predicting what a new owner might do. He/she/they would theoretically be well within their rights to splinter AEG in any number of ways, but until a potential owner is identified, it’s relatively pointless to speculate. In general, though, it’s hard to imagine too much splintering. There’s so much planned synergy that it would be difficult, and perhaps unwise, for a new owner to change too much. The Kings, Staples Center, the Manchester Monarchs and Toyota Sports Center are all tied together by design — not to mention tied to AEG’s ticketing and merchandising wings — and of late there have also been increasing ties to the Galaxy.

Now, if anyone has approximately $4,999,998,000.00 they would be interested in investing in a partnership with me…

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