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AEG, a behind-the-scenes entertainment giant, is for sale

Fans arrive at the arena for Game One of the 2010 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on June 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Have a billion or two to spare? The sports and entertainment Goliath, Anschutz Entertainment Group (also known as AEG) just went up for sale.

A division of the privately-held Anschutz Company, AEG owns and operates more than 100 arenas, stadiums and sports clubs on five continents. That includes a significant presence in Los Angeles: AEG owns the Staples Center sports arena complex, the L.A. Kings of the National Hockey League, the Galaxy of professional soccer and a share of the NBA Lakers.

Overseas, AEG owns the famed O2 sports arena and entertainment complex in London, as well as arenas and teams in Istanbul, Berlin, Ontario and Hamburg. AEG also is the world’s #2 concert promoting firm.

“They have been a great stagehand to all of these teams,” says Andy Dolich, former president of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.    “People are going to see the greatest athletes in the world, greatest performers do their thing. They don’t know who the stage hands are. But without that background, without the microphones and all that, you don’t really have the event.”  

Dolich credits AEG with "seeing around the corner" as they turn sports and concert sites into full-fledged entertainment districts -- replete with restaurants, hotels and shopping.  AEG also pioneered the use of tech gizmos, says Jim Andrews of the sponsorhsip consultancy IEG.

"Like being able to order food directly, using devices to do that," he specifies. "All of those things have really changed the experience."

AEG was formerly held by the very private billionaire Philip Anschutz. Listed at number 44 on this year’s Forbes rich list, Anschutz hasn’t given an interview since the 1970s.  

"He’s not like a Jerry Jones or a George Steinbrenner," says sports management professor Rick Burton of Syracuse University. But still-- "Phil Anschutz is as big as any of the biggest names the average fan should know."

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.
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