I’ve been in San Diego for the last 9 days, and as anyone who has seen the local newscasts down here can attest, they’re not far removed from Anchorman, at least in terms of content. Tonight was time for a shakeup, however, as a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio indicates that AEG head/billionaire Phil Anschutz is teaming up with Laker great and former team part-owner Magic Johnson to buy a major stake in the San Diego Chargers.
Chargers chief counsel Mark Fabiani is busy trying to do damage control, but he’s also the same guy who said two weeks ago:
“If AEG buys a piece of this team, then people have a right to be concerned,” Fabiani admits. “But it’s totally hypothetical at this point. Goldman Sachs has talked to people all over the country, all over the world, not just in L.A. It’s all rumors.
Goldman Sachs has supposedly been retained by the Chargers in order to find a buyer for Spanos family patriarch Alex Spanos’ 36% share of the team, the largest of any individual partner. Much of the team has been divvied up among the elder Spanos’ children. Johnson’s interest isn’t certain, though the timing is certainly curious. Johnson sold his 4.5% stake in the Lakers in October. Current and prospective NFL owners aren’t allowed to hold stakes of MLB or NBA teams outside their respective home markets (though the NFL doesn’t currently have a Los Angeles franchise and the NBA doesn’t have a San Diego team).
Assuming that Anschutz/AEG is able to convince the remaining Spanos family partners that further trying in San Diego will only lead to a dead end, they’ll be able to get the ball rolling quickly on their $725 million, downtown LA stadium concept. While I still think the idea of building a 70,000-seat football stadium in downtown LA is ludicrous, this is AEG we’re talking about, and the company is practically infallible in town right now, with the success of Staples Center and LA Live! They’ll certainly get the benefit of the doubt. And amazingly, they could get it done without Ari Gold.