Why the cup is a gamechanger

Sports Entertainment Impact Report 2012 - Leadership Award: Tim Leiweke

Fans in Los Angeles have been flocking to pose with the Stanley Cup. One of the key men largely responsible for putting the Los Angeles Kings in position to finally seize hockey’s greatest prize this season after a 45-year quest continues to reflect upon it.

“We’ve had a lot of accomplishments at AEG in the last 15 years,” says Tim Leiweke, prexy and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings. “This is one that will stand the test of time. This one just completely stands out as far as how remarkable it is, how remarkable the run was, and the amazing impact it had on AEG.

“Literally, it has changed people’s perceptions of our company.”

That’s almost as radical a notion as the Kings skating around with the Cup. Under the stewardship of Leiweke, who will receive the inaugural Variety Sports and Entertainment Leadership Award today at the Variety Sports Entertainment Summit, AEG has seemed to transform its image with each new bold venture, from Staples Center to the L.A. Live entertainment center across the street and the proposed Farmers Field next door, offering the promise of an NFL tenant alongside a new Los Angeles Convention Center.

“When I was a puppy starting out in sports we used to do intros for indoor soccer,” Leiweke says. “Everybody thought we were nuts. People called us a circus. Today, every sporting event is a circus. Sometimes people go to the events, and the games are almost an afterthought to the entertainment.

“If you look at the most important content on television, if you look at discretionary income spent on sports … if you look at what people wear, what they listen to, how people cut their hair, the general impact of sports on people and lifestyles, so much is derived from athletes and sporting events. Sports is not only entertainment, but the most vibrant thread in lifestyle today.”

Carol Schatz, prexy and CEO of lobbying org Central City Assn., who has worked closely with Leiweke on downtown development issues, calls him “a true visionary.”

“Staples Center was the B.C. and A.D. of downtown’s current renaissance,” she says. “This project and L.A. Live have completely transformed downtown L.A. from a dark and dreary, 9-to-5 commercial center to a vibrant, 24/7 mecca for entertainment and sports.

“Farmers Field will continue to turn the lights on in downtown L.A., and with Tim as the captain of this effort, we are certain it will happen.”

Heroes with humanity

Why the cup is a gamechanger | Sports Entertainment Impact Report honorees | Sports and entertainment leaders offer deep thoughts