Saturday, September 29, 2007

The rise of AEG

If you haven't seen it yet, Eric Duhatschek's piece on the Anschutz Entertainment Group is the read of the weekend:
Founded by Denver industrialist Philip Anschutz, who is currently listed by Forbes Magazine as the 41st-richest American at $7.6-billion, AEG has many tentacles in the world of professional hockey.

AEG owns the Kings, the Staples Center and the O2. Last month, when Harrah's announced plans for a privately financed $500-million arena project in Las Vegas with a view to attracting an NHL or NBA team, the partner in the deal was AEG.

When Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie was heavily in pursuit of the Nashville Predators earlier this year, his primary competitor was William (Boots) Del Biaggio, who wanted to move the team to Kansas City to play in the new AEG-owned Sprint Center.
Anschutz is quickly becoming one of the world's biggest power players in professional sports, and as Duhatschek notes, he was behind the unbelievable $250-million deal that saw David Beckham come to North America.

That someone as wealthy and influential as Anschutz has this great an interest in hockey is, for the most part, a pretty positive situation — although the desire to start plunking hockey teams into AEG-owned arenas, regardless of location, is troubling.

More and more, Anschutz has the NHL's ear, and all future expansion plans are likely going to involve his rinks. And given he already owns marquee buildings throughout the U.S. and Europe, I wonder if his next foray just might be a Canadian one.
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6 Comments:

At 10:20 PM, September 29, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

Worked great when the Norris family ran the arenas/teams in Detroit, Chicago, New York. What could possibly go wrong if this guy is the de facto COO of the NHL in 2007. *cough*

 
At 2:12 PM, September 30, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many more arenas does NHL need?And you can forget European division for NHL. Every hockey reporter is telling that there's Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow, Prague etc. willing to join NHL.

Stockholm? One of the worst hockey towns in Sweden. Local Djurgarden draws around 6-7.000 per game.
Helsinki? Much better hockey town than Stockholm but Jokerit is averaging 7-8.000 with most tickets sold at 10USD.

When Winnipeg's new arena is too small how can you play in smaller arenas in Stockholm and Helsinki?

How do you tell Swedes and Finns to pay 10 times more for a ticket? Is NHL that much better product?

Expansion fees? Is 100M enough? Well, it's enough to these European "teams" to say thanks but no thanks.

 
At 3:39 PM, September 30, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

...."That someone as wealthy and influential as Anschutz has this great an interest in hockey is, for the most part, a pretty positive situation"....

Sorry James, but you are way off base here. AEG's interest is in real estate - not hockey. Their only interest in hockey is as a tenant for their real estate developments. They have no more interest in hockey than a developer of shopping malls has an interest in retailing.

The reason AEG wants the NHL to go to Europe is to serve as tenants of arenas they would like to construct and own in Europe. Like most other smart US money, AEG is looking to diversify out of US dollar denominated assets into Euro assets as the US dollar continues its long term secular decline against all world currencies.

However, the NHL in Eurpoe is nothing but a "pipe dream". First, the southern half of Europe has absolutely no interest in hockey.

Second, where hockey is popular, the existing vested interests will do everything they can to stop the NHL's entry.

Do you really think that Putin and his buddy oligarchs who own the Russian Super League teams are going to allow the NHL to come into Moscow and drain off their revenues. Not a chance.

Do you really think socialist Sweden, with its foreign ownership restrictions - and which is more protective of its cultural and sports industries than even Canada - is going to allow American AEG to come into the country and harm the Swedish Elite League with an NHL team. Not likely.

To meet this NHL threat the Russian, Swedish, Czech, German, Austrian, Swiss, etc. top leagues and owners are likely to form a UEFA type Champions League (much like soccer in Europe). This would probably have more fan interest and be more popular than the NHL.

 
At 4:18 PM, September 30, 2007, Blogger PJ Swenson said...

In San Jose, after forcing the Earthquakes to Houston where they won a championship, AEG is known as the Anti-Earthquakes Group.

 
At 4:36 PM, September 30, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Sorry James, but you are way off base here. AEG's interest is in real estate - not hockey. Their only interest in hockey is as a tenant for their real estate developments. They have no more interest in hockey than a developer of shopping malls has an interest in retailing.

In the piece, AEG's CEO describes himself as a 'hockey guy.' They could certainly put a lot of different things in these buildings, and hire someone to do Leiwike's job who didn't give a hoot about the game, but they didn't. And the fact that's it's hockey speaks to some desire to promote it.

The rest of your post goes off into a rant about the NHL in Europe, which I don't even bring up. Of course it's a pipe dream; it's ridiculous.

I'm interested in Anschutz as it pertains to the NHL, and that's where Vegas and Kansas City are going to come in. The rest is just silliness.

 
At 10:12 AM, October 02, 2007, Anonymous R. Lee said...

Interesting situation here with AEG.
I believe its pretty much a done deal that KC(possibly formerly known as Nashville) and Vegas will be in the NHL within 3 years. I caught that hint about a possible Canadian venture by Anshutz. Big Jim's next move ought to include a conversation with AEG. A NEW arena built by AEG in the western fringes of the 'Shoe could be just the tonic to appease Gary,the BOG, MLSE and the Sabres. This could happen especially if the Preds leave Nashville for KC. The Ontario team would be the 32nd team behind Vegas in the expansion derby. However, sometime in the distant(hopefully very distant) AEG arenas in Berlin and London could be home to NHL franchises. "Never say never." One thing is for sure, AEG(whether right or wrong) is going to be in the mix for any future moves or expansion.

 

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