Anschutz Entertainment Group
Los Angeles, United States
|Parent||The Anschutz Corporation|
The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is an American worldwide sporting and music entertainment presenter and a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation. It is the world's largest owner of sports teams and sports events, the owner of the world’s most profitable sports and entertainment venues, and under AEG Live, the world's second largest presenter of live music and entertainment events (after Live Nation). AEG Live was started in 2002.
AEG owns and operates a variety of venues, sport teams and entertainment concerns. For venues, AEG owns and operates the Staples Center and the StubHub Center, and manages the XL Center and Rentschler Field. In England, it owns the Manchester Arena, and currently operates The O2 which includes a 20,000 capacity arena. In Turkey, AEG operates 13,800 capacity Ulker Sports Arena and Galatasaray S.K.'s new home ground 52,695 capacity Turk Telekom Arena. As part of the development of the O2, Anschutz also purchased the London river service company Thames Clipper, and supported the development of the nearby David Beckham Academy (which also has a branch at the Home Depot Center). The company has its headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles.
For sports teams, the company owns the Los Angeles Galaxy, 50% of the Houston Dynamo, 50% of the Los Angeles Kings, Ontario Reign, Manchester Monarchs, Eisbären Berlin with Berlin O2 World Ice-Arena, Hamburg Freezers, 49% of Hammarby IF Fotboll, as well as interests in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Sparks, Hartford Colonials and Reading Royals. The company also purchased the Champions on Ice figure skating tour in 2006, and own 12% of Djurgårdens IF Hockey. The company makes a significant amount of its money by leveraging its sports interests, already significant earners, by using the stadia in which these teams play to host various other entertainment events, most notably concerts. Indeed, Philip Anschutz created the company by buying up several small local promoters in Los Angeles including ConcertsWest and Goldenvoice, which had been founded by Gary Tovar and promotes the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, in order to fill up the schedule for his new sports venue, Staples Center. It is now the second-largest event promoter in the United States.
AEG Live came to international public attention in 2009 when it acted as the promoter for Michael Jackson's This Is It concerts. Jackson died just three weeks before the series of 50 concerts were due to begin. Members of Jackson's family have said that they would like to see an investigation, in general, into the role of AEG Live in the final weeks of his life, and also, in particular, into the role of the personal advisers and representatives whom they believe the promoters put in place for him.
On September 18, 2012, The Anschutz Corporation announced its intent to sell Anschutz Entertainment Group and its holdings. The company has retained financial advisors Blackstone Advisory Partners to assist in AEG's sale process. There has been some concerns about the sale as AEG was instrumental in the development of Farmers Field, a proposed football stadium in Downtown Los Angeles intended to attract an NFL team to the city (which has been without an NFL team since the Los Angeles Rams relocated to St. Louis, Missouri and the Los Angeles Raiders relocated to Oakland, California, both respectively in 1995), approval to begin construction of Farmers Field in 2013 for a 2016 completion was in the process of being finalized at the time that AEG's sale was announced.
On March 14, 2013 Anschutz announced AEG is no longer for sale and that he is changing CEOs. Tim Leiweke (CEO since 1996) left the firm, John Skorjanec, VP of National Media Accounts whose leave of absence, left a temporary void, has returned in the same capacity with Dan Beckerman now the person at the top of AEG.
AEG also owns the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, StubHub Center in Carson, California and the multi-purpose arena known as "The O2", formerly the Millennium Dome. AEG operates The Sprint Center for the city of Kansas City, Missouri, and Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Anschutz's investment in the "The O2", through his company Anschutz Entertainment Group previously resulted in his involvement in controversy related to the possible influence of former British Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott in the award of the "super casino" license by the British government. Anschutz knows Prescott personally, having had him as a guest for a two-night stay at Anschutz's ranch in 2005 and footing the bill for hospitality and gifts.
In January 2007, the "Super Casino" license was awarded to a group in Manchester, rather than to Blackpool or London. Anschutz spent £50m on the Manchester Arena and the winner of the casino licence is a close ally of Anshutz, Sol Kerzner.  
AEG is planning to develop similar entertainment complexes to London's O2 Arena, including the O2 World in Berlin and an entertainment complex around the existing Staples Center.
In August 2007, AEG announced plans with Harrah's Entertainment to build a privately financed 20,000-seat arena in Las Vegas on the Strip  on Harrah's land located directly behind the Bally's Las Vegas and Paris Las Vegas resorts. The informal partnership was dissolved the following year.
In October 2011, it was announced an agreement with Palmeiras and WTorre for managing the "Allianz Parque," one of the most modern multipurpose spaces in the world, located in São Paulo, Brazil. The project is under construction and is scheduled to open in July 2014.
In 2014, the partnership of AEG Live with MGM Resorts International began construction of Las Vegas Arena located west of the Las Vegas Strip between Frank Sinatra Drive and New York-New York, with a planned opening in Spring 2016.
Soccer and ice hockey
Anschutz was one of the co-founders and one of the lead investors of Major League Soccer. In 1996, he became the investor/operator of the Colorado Rapids, his first MLS franchise. The Rapids were then a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation. In subsequent years, as Anschutz acquired additional sports teams, it led to the formation of a new division of the company whose focus was sports and entertainment, and thus AEG was born, with the Rapids and hockey's LA Kings as its original members.
Since 1996, AEG has held ownership in the Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, New York/New Jersey MetroStars and D.C. United. Currently, AEG is the investor/operator of both the Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo (25% of Houston Dynamo is now owned by Oscar de la Hoya through Golden Boy Promotions).
Anschutz was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006. Also in 2006, Anschutz received the National Soccer Medal of Honor, one of four recipients to ever receive the award. In 2007, Anschutz and AEG played a vital role in bringing David Beckham to the United States. Beckham is now employed by Galaxy Media and plays for Los Angeles Galaxy. In 2009, he joined USA Bid Committee Board of Directors who are preparing the US's application and campaign to bring the World Cup to the United States.
AEG also owns the NHL's Los Angeles Kings; the AHL's Manchester Monarchs; the ECHL's Reading Royals and Ontario Reign; the Swedish soccer team Hammarby IF, part of Swedish hockey team Djurgårdens IF; and the German ice hockey teams Hamburg Freezers and Eisbären Berlin.
AEG also manages the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri and the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. They previously operated Rentschler Field in Hartford from 2007 to 2010, during which they held a stake in the now-defunct Hartford Colonials of the UFL.
Anschutz Entertainment Group were in a consortium with Tottenham Hotspur to demolish the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford and then to build a new 60,000 seater soccer stadium in its place and to renovate the Crystal Palace athletics stadium. However this proposal was rejected.
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In July 2010, it was announced that Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc. had entered into an agreement to purchase the Kingsmill Resort near Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1968, Xanterra became the successor to the Fred Harvey Company initially established by entrepreneur Fred Harvey beginning in 1875. One of Xanterra's more famous locations is located at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Xanterra (owned by Anschutz since 2008) has traditionally operated in national and state parks across the United States, especially in the Western regions. Other high profile operations include Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. As of 2010, Xanterra was operating about three dozen hotels and lodges with more than 5,000 guest rooms combined, with over 8,000 employees.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the Kingsmill Resort was developed by Anheuser-Busch (A-B) as a portion of the brewing company's development of diversified activities in the Williamsburg area, which grew to include not only the brewery, but the Busch Gardens Williamsburg theme park, and large upscale developments of residential and office park properties. The St. Louis-based brewer invested in the area following negotiations held between August Busch, II and Winthrop Rockefeller, a son of Colonial Williamsburg's initial chief mentor, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.. Winthrop Rockefeller had been serving as both governor of Arkansas and chairman of Colonial Williamsburg in the 1960s and 1970s. (Water Country USA, a local water park, was acquired by A-B in the 1990s, and added to the company's theme park activities, which include a number of SeaWorld properties in other states as well).
Both Winthrop Rockefeller, who died in 1973, and August Busch II, who died in 1989 have been credited by some historians with helping develop the Greater Williamsburg area into one of the top tourism destinations in the world. They apparently felt that augmenting the attractions of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia (Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown) with other attractions which would help draw future families to the region, as well as help balance out the local economy. Since their respective deaths, other family members of both the Rockefeller and Busch families have carried on much of those priorities, although as a brewer, A-B found itself increasingly in tough competition in an increasingly global market.
In 2009, after initially resisting an unsolicited stock bid, A-B announced it had reached an agreement to be acquired by the even larger Belgium-based InBev, the world's largest brewing company. The newer owners announced plans to sell-off the portions of A-B activities which were not part of the core beverage business as it worked to reduce debt incurred to fund the acquisition.
As A-B had been a major employer and strong community supporter for many years, there was widespread speculation and more than a little apprehension about who might ultimately acquire and control the theme parks, the resort, and other Busch developments in the region. Since then, the Blackstone Group acquired the company's 10 theme parks, including two near Williamsburg. Many leaders and citizens of Williamsburg, as well as James City County and York County have expressed both relief and optimism at the selections of Blackstone and Xanterra to operate the theme parks and resort respectively.
The world-renowned Kingsmill Resort has 425 rooms, five restaurants, 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) of conference space, a spa and fitness center, marina, and 15-court tennis center. Three championship golf courses and an executive nine-hole course surround the resort. The location has hosted the LPGA and other premier golf events, as well as perennially hosting political conferences, such as national governors conferences and congressional caucuses.
In an apparently unrelated matter, it has also been reported by newsmedia sources that Anschutz is currently in negotiations to buy the Silverado Golf Resort in Napa, California.
When filmmakers made a movie about Red Adair in 1967, Anschutz struck a deal with Universal Pictures to permit filming real fire fighters extinguishing a real oil blaze on his land for a $100,000 fee. The footage was used in the 1968 John Wayne movie Hellfighters.
Anschutz Film Group (formerly Crusader Entertainment, now known as Bristol Bay Productions and Walden Media) produced the commercially successful Holes in 2003 and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005.
AEG partnered with Outbox Enterprises, a start up company, in which AEG is both an equity partner and a client, to develop AXS (pronounced "access"). AXS is a digital marketing platform for purchasing tickets for sports and entertainment events. The platform has introduced several social ticketing innovations.
In Berlin, local groups started a boycott against the projected development Mediaspree, of which O2 World is a part, arguing that huge sections of public spaces were being lost to the private sector. Furthermore, the Anschutz company was criticized for bully-like behavior in regards to the changing of the outer parameters of the sports arena. A section of the nearby East Side Gallery, a left-over piece of the Berlin Wall now serving as an international memorial for peace and freedom, had to be removed to enable the view of Anschutz's new arena, located on the (former) eastern side of the city Spree.
AEG benefited from global interest in the death of Michael Jackson by hosting a public memorial service at Staples Center, a prominent music venue in Los Angeles and home of the Grammy Museum. The event included security and logistical support by the City of Los Angeles totaling $4 million. City Council members and local media have called for the cost of the memorial incurred by the City to be paid for by the Jackson family and/or AEG, instead of the city taxpayer.
AEG was also accused of having attempted to profit from the death of Michael Jackson, who was due to perform at London's O2 Arena in 2009/2010. While refunds of the approximately 750,000 tickets (at £55–£75 each plus £9 booking fee per ticket) were made available to customers who requested them, the promoter offered to send out "souvenir" tickets—providing fans of the singer waived their right to the refund.
The company estimated that between 40–50% of its customers would request the original tickets in lieu of the refund, which would save the company $40 million in refunds. This was in addition to future profits from any material that formed a part of the "This Is It" concerts, which AEG made its intellectual property in sponsoring the concerts themselves.
After the physician, Conrad Murray, appointed by AEG to take care of Jackson during the run-up and throughout the This Is It concerts was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, Katherine Jackson (Michael's mother and legal guardian of his three children) filed a wrongful death suit against the promoter seeking damages reported to be in excess of tens of billions of dollars. AEG filed a motion to have the case dismissed which was denied by a Los Angeles County judge who felt sufficient evidence was present for the progression to a jury trial. The trial began on April 2. Murray, who served jail time for the death of Jackson, has indicated if called as a witness he will refuse to testify to avoid incriminating himself in the midst of his sentence appeal as he hasn't before testified under oath regarding Jackson's death. On October 2, 2013 AEG was found not liable in the death of Michael Jackson.
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- Anschutz Entertainment Group Official Website
- Anschutz Entertainment Group Live Official Website
- Anschutz Entertainment Group Digital Media Official Website