The final few angles that will be explored in this series on the Los Angeles Sol involve forces outside of Women’s Professional Soccer. Anschutz Entertainment Group has yet again come out of this looking like the villain.
As of right now, that is a pretty legitimate argument. Nobody about AEG is talking about the Los Angeles Sol. When I did get in touch with a Home Depot Center staff member on Wednesday, I was told that all comment was being forwarded to the league. AEG is still yet to comment on the Sol ceasing operations – not even a simple, run of the mill press release assuring that they are sorry about what happened (as insincere as something like that may be, it is still a step up from silence).
True, AEG co-owned the Sol with Blue Star LLC, a partnership composed of actor Anthony LaPaglia, Rudi Bianchi, Ali Mansouri and Shane Astani. Outside of LaPaglia those names are not very familiar on a national scope, and they don’t carry the history that AEG has with American soccer.
Where AEG fails is in the precedent that the organization has set with its MLS franchises. AEG has had its hands on six (technically seven in wake of the San Jose Earthquakes fiasco) different Major League Soccer franchises at one point: Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids, D.C. United, Houston Dynamo (previously the San Jose Earthquakes version 1.0) Los Angeles Galaxy and the NY/NJ MetroStars.
In each case (other than LA and Houston, which AEG still owns), an owner was found for the team before AEG parted ways. With higher operating costs in MLS, Anschutz Entertainment Group lost much more than the reported $2 million it lost on the Los Angeles Sol in 2009.
Honestly, that is pocket change to these big wigs.
The bottom line is that AEG has a responsibility here and as an organization, that responsibility still has not been addressed publicly. On the Set Piece Analysts Daily Podcast, there were calls of sexism in this incident, and those objectively and carefully have to be explored.
This is year one of a league that is widely considered to have promise, and yet AEG, whose mission according to WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci was to help the team get off the ground and establish itself, has done anything but establish it.
So when news of the Sol’s potential fate came through earlier in the week, did AEG offer to come back and help the Sol – and more importantly, WPS – get through this?
“You would have to talk to AEG specifically, but I can tell you that it is not something that they were going to be in a position to offer up or be in a position to take on,” Antonucci said.
She also emphasized that this falls on the league as well, because it was the league that took over custody in November and was in negotiations when the sale fall through. That’s a legitimate concession, but it does not entirely excuse AEG.
It is hard to imagine what prevented this sports and entertainment conglomerate from “being in a position to take on” the Sol for another short period of time, other than simply not caring.
Credit to Tom Dunmore at Pitch Invasion for a sound counterpoint here.
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