Amgen Tour owner AEG up for sale

AEG claims no disruption in operations during sale as Amgen has one year remaining on sponsor deal with Tour of California

LAS VEGAS (VN) — Amgen Tour of California owner AEG Sports is for sale, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Sponsored by biotech giant Amgen since its inaugural 2006 event, the race is owned and operated by AEG Sports, a subsidiary of the Denver-based Anschutz Company headed by billionaire Phillip Anschutz.

A cycling fan, Anschutz personally signed off on backing the event, which has struggled to become solvent over its seven-year history.

Costs to operate the eight-stage event are believed to run over $1 million per day, with Amgen’s sponsorship covering less than half that amount. AEG meets remaining costs through various partnerships, VIP packages and merchandising.

Georgia-based Medalist Sports has managed the Amgen Tour for AEG since its inception.

Based in Los Angeles, AEG owns the Staples Center arena, the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings, Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy and a stake in the National Basketball Association’s L.A. Lakers.

The potential sale was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“It wasn’t immediately clear how far along the company is in the sale process, or whether it has entertained any offers,” AP reported. “The price for AEG could be well into the billions.”

Since its inception in 2006, the Amgen Tour has drawn the biggest names in the sport, including European pros Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, Andy Schleck, Tom Boonen, Ivan Basso, Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire, as well as top Americans Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Tyler Farrar, Tejay van Garderen and David Zabriskie.

The race has also seen several high-profile celebrities make appearances, including former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and actors Patrick Dempsey and Robin Williams.

After its first three-year commitment ended in 2008, Amgen signed on for another three-year term, which came to fruition in May 2011. Amgen returned in 2012, and has one more year remaining on its agreement with AEG, sources have told VeloNews. Representatives from Amgen were not immediately available for comment.

Following the 2011 event, longtime head of AEG Sports Andrew Messick left the entertainment group to head the World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the Ironman race series. AEG Sports vice president Kristin Bachochin has since taken over primary responsibilities in running the event.

AEG’s vice president of communications Michael Roth sent a statement to VeloNews Wednesday: “AEG and its owner, the Anschutz Company, are conducting this process in a manner that avoids disruption of the day-to-day operations of AEG and its venues, arenas and properties. It is business as usual at AEG and all its operations.”