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City News

LA Live Chief Asks What City Has Done For Him Lately

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Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 6:02 AM

click to enlarge The JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton at LA Live.
  • The JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton at LA Live.
A Los Angeles Times weekend profile of LA Live boss Tim Leiweke, chief executive of parent company Anschutz Entertainment Group, paints a picture of man who takes city taxpayer support for granted. The city kicked out an entire barrio to help develop AEG's Staples Center and LA Live (AEG even turned around and resold some of the real estate), gave $70 billion in loans to help AEG build Staples and LA Live, and approved nearly $246 million in tax breaks for the company. (Background).

Now, a normal person would say, "Thank you, Los Angeles," but Leiweke sees things differently. In his mind, as the profile seems to make clear, he's done L.A. the favor. "Every other city that we would be in, the city would come to us and say, 'Are you guys OK? Can we help you?' " Leiweke told the Times. "I told the mayor [Antonio Villaraigosa], 'You are damn lucky it is us ... "

Asked whether he expects anything in return for AEG's $1.8 million in contributions to political candidates in the last five years, Leiweke brushed off the suggestion. "I would think that any logical human being would sit back and say, 'This is a company that doesn't need to make political donations to get influence,'" he said.

And, at last month's inaugural lighting of the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton tower, Leiweke seemed to gloat over the fact that so many politicians were in his house: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Villaraigosa, five members of the City Council, and the city controller were in attendance.

He joked that so many people from the City Council were in attendance that he could work out a deal to end the controversy of whether AEG should pick up the city's cost ($3.2 million) for policing AEG's Michael Jackson memorial show. On the spot. "We could do a quick session and agree to terms," he said.

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