The facts are these: Last night, as many of us were sleeping, a Toronto radio station reported that Philip Anschutz of Anschutz Entertainment Group fame had bought 35% of the San Diego Chargers. AEG already owns stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and owns the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Home Depot Center, and the Staples Center. Were these rumors to pan out, it would almost certainly mean a move north up the 5 freeway for the San Diego Chargers.
This morning, an attorney for the San Diego Chargers denied the report saying:
"There is no truth to the rumor out of Toronto that the Chargers have agreed to sell a portion of the team to Mr. Anschutz," Chargers attorney Mark Fabiani said in a statement late Tuesday night.
However there are facts which support the rumor currently making its way around the internet. AEG has announced plans to build a $725 million NFL stadium in downtown LA, complete with retractable roof. This plan is of course contingent on getting a tenant, though who that tenant is up to today hasn't been specified. Buying 35% of the Chargers certainly would make business sense.
The Chargers also recently announced that Alex Spanos was looking to sell a minority stake in the Chargers to help with estate taxes. The 87-year-old owns 36% of the team with his wife Faye, their four children each have 15%, and there are two minority owners that control the other 4%. The goal was always to sell a minority stake, there was never any risk that the family would lose control of the team.
If the rumors are true, it will be interesting to see where Anschutz is getting his 35% from. Under current NFL rules, it only takes 30% ownership to run a team, so whether Anschutz is buying shares directly from Spanos or from a conglomerate of the Spanos children is a major distinction. In the first scenario Anchutz would take over control of the team's operations, in the second the family would retain control.
Also on the table on the Minnesota Vikings who have allegedly been approached by Ed Roski who is the man behind the City of Industry proposal and AEG CEO Tim Leiweke. Leiweke played a large role in getting David Beckham to make his move to the LA Galaxy. A visit from him is almost the same as a visit from Anschutz himself, however it's more likely that AEG simply wants to remain a player should the Vikings look westward.
The Chargers were founded as the Los Angeles Chargers of the AFL and played one year in the Coliseum before moving south to San Diego. The Minnesota Vikings are best known in Los Angeles for being a thorn in the side of the Los Angeles Rams. More on this story as it develops.