AEG Taps New Management

Anschutz Entertainment Group has expanded its key management team, including adding SMG vet Bob Newman as COO, in an effort to expand the company’s venue real estate worldwide, CEO Tim Leiweke told Pollstar.

Newman will be joined by fellow SMG execs Sims Hinds and Brian Kabatznick. Hinds has been named senior VP business development and Kabatznick will have a similar title for AEG’s European properties.

"We have Staples Center but we will add in short order here Sprint Center, the O2 London, the O2 World in Berlin and the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario," Leiweke said. "We’re going to continue to, one, grow our management team and, two, get all of our facilities under one roof and, three, go out and continue to expand our ability to create a new model and new partnerships with arenas and theatres."

The company has been bidding on a half-dozen arena deals in the last six months with the help of venue exec Dana Warg, Leiweke said. Hinds will add to that effort, focusing on new business development, and Kabatznick will "grow our footprint in Europe."

"People think this is us announcing we’re getting into the business," Leiweke said. "With 33 facilities, we’re already in the business."

Instead, the AEG chief exec stressed that the announcement shows the company’s commitment to be a solid competitor to Live Nation.

"I admire their business plan and, like us, they’re in the content business. Like us, they’re in the sponsorship sales business. Like us, they’re in the premium seating sales servicing business. I think AEG and Live Nation are much more similar and tend to be more focused on a different kind of model."

Apparently there is a rumor that AEG is interested in buying SMG – the titan of facility management – but Leiweke said that is not the case.

"Quite frankly, they are not the company we’re focused on building our model around," he said. "Although we’ve heard the rumors that they’re for sale, we’re not focused on that. We’re focused on continuing to grow our company."

AEG recently landed a facility management contract with the new Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., which has been trumpeted as AEG’s first venture into facility management – defined as managing a venue that AEG does not at least partially own (e.g., Sprint Center). However, Leiweke didn’t even think the Prudential Center counted as an expansion of AEG’s business model.

"I’ve heard that but it’s not necessarily true," he said. "We’ve had the Anaheim Arena for a while and we managed the Kodak Theatre for a while, so we’ve actually been involved in other straight management deals. We’re going to continue to grow that."