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Anschutz close to selling soccer team, paper says
By Joyzelle Davis
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Anschutz Entertainment Group is reportedly again close to selling the rights to Major League Soccer team D.C. United, a move that would pare Anschutz's soccer holdings to three teams.  Brian Davis, who is managing partner of Durham, N.C.-based Blue Devil Ventures, was quoted in Sunday's The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal newspaper as saying a deal for D.C. United "will be announced this month. . . . We're buying the team for $33 million."

Doug Hicks, spokesman for D.C. United, declined to comment.  Davis, who is part of an investment group purchasing NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, didn't return a call for comment.

D.C. United, home to 17-year-old phenom Freddy Adu, has been on the market since a $26 million deal between AEG and a Virginia investment group fell apart in January.

United is one of Anschutz's few teams that doesn't have its own soccer-specific stadium, which is central to the company's strategy to turn a profit.  But it is the MLS' most successful team and has won four league championships in nine years.

If the sale is completed, D.C. United would be the second team AEG has shed this year.  In March it sold rights to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars to Red Bull, the Austria-based energy-drink maker, while retaining a 50 percent stake in the Harrison, N.J., soccer stadium.

Unlike other sports leagues, which sell individual franchises, MLS investors finance the league and are given the operating rights to specific teams.

Qwest founder Anschutz helped launch the league in 1996 and this year was inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame for his efforts.  At one point he controlled six MLS teams, including the Colorado Rapids.  AEG in 2003 sold operating rights for the Rapids to Kroenke Sports Enterprises, owner of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets.

Anschutz empire

Phil Anschutz's operations span many industries, including theaters, railroads, sports teams and oil.  Among the holdings:

  A majority stake in Regal Entertainment Group, which controls former independent theater chains United Artists, Regal Cinemas and Edwards Theatres

  Nearly 5 percent of the Omaha-based Union Pacific railroad

  The San Francisco Examiner and Washington Examiner newspapers

  Staples Center sports arena in Los Angeles

  Four pro soccer teams:  D.C. United, Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo

  A 30 percent stake in the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team

  NHL's Los Angeles Kings

  A stake in Denver-based Forest Oil

  Movie production company Walden Media, whose releases include The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_5057664,00.html