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LOS ANGELES-Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz’s Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) has bought out partner Fox Entertainment Group’s interest in the Staples Center sports arena in Downtown L.A., according to AEG. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but the deal likely totals hundreds of millions of dollars because construction costs alone for the Staples Center were estimated at more than $400 million when the venue opened in 1999. AEG says the deal includes Staples Center and “other Southern California properties and developments including LA Live, the proposed sports and entertainment district in Downtown Los Angeles adjacent to Staples Center.” AEG has previously announced plans for $1 billion of development near Staples Center, which is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and is considered one of the biggest draws bringing people to Downtown. AEG’s website describes its plans for the development surrounding Staples Center as a four-million-sf complex featuring a 7,000-seat live theater, a hotel to serve the Los Angeles Convention Center, along with entertainment, restaurant, residential and office space.Ever since it opened, the Staples Center has been viewed as a catalyst for development in Downtown Los Angeles. City officials, convention center executives and developers have long discussed the prospect of a new hotel as a key to the future of the convention center.Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, says Fox will continue to be partners with AEG. He adds that Fox Entertainment Group, one of the founding partners of Staples Center, will retain its role as a sponsor as well as its ownership share of the Fox Sports Sky Box restaurant within the Staples arena. In addition, Fox will continue to produce its Southern California Sports Report and other TV programming at the Fox Sports Net studios within Staples Center. The studios are operated by AEG Teleworks.The purchase of Fox’s interest in Staples Center and the plans for the area surrounding the sports complex are the latest in a series of investments in and proposals for Downtown L.A. by the Anschutz group. In 2002 Anschutz was part of a group that proposed to build a $450-million, 64,000-seat football stadium on 20 acres in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown to bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles, which has been without an NFL team since the former Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis, but the stadium plan was later shelved.

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