AEG officials will be in Sacramento for arena huddle

03/20/2012 12:00 AM

03/20/2012 9:22 AM

The silent partner in Sacramento's arena project is about to step out of the shadows.

Top executives from Anschutz Entertainment Group, the arena conglomerate that's agreed to pour nearly $59 million into the project, will arrive in Sacramento today for meetings with Mayor Kevin Johnson, the Kings and others.

The AEG delegation will be led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke, considered one of the most powerful men in the sports and entertainment industry. He and Johnson are scheduled to hold a news conference at City Hall.

AEG until now has declined to comment on its role in the downtown arena, even after city officials released the amount of AEG's contribution and other terms of the agreement.

The nonbinding term sheet calls for the Los Angeles company to run the building and book all of the events, other than Kings games. In return, it will retain the lion's share of the arena's profits.

Leiweke's arrival today "is their sort of official, 'We're coming to Sacramento,' " said Kunal Merchant, the mayor's chief of staff.

The trip is more than ceremonial; many of the details of the arena deal remain to be finalized. For instance, while the basics of the revenue split have been worked out between AEG and the Kings' owners, the Maloofs, the two sides have until April 15 to complete a more definitive memorandum of understanding.

The Kings – who had been threatening to leave town unless a new arena was built – would be the building's anchor tenant. Most of the advertising revenue at the arena, including the so-called naming rights, would be split 50-50 between the two, according to the term sheet.

Privately held AEG manages sports and entertainment arenas around the world, including the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It owns hockey's L.A. Kings and is a part owner of the Lakers. It has also developed a sprawling entertainment complex around Staples and is trying to build a football stadium nearby.

As the nation's second-largest concert promoter, AEG could raise Sacramento's profile as a destination for big rock tours. Industry analysts believe AEG would fill the new arena with concerts and other events far more frequently than the Maloofs have at the Kings' current venue, Power Balance Pavilion.

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