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Heavy-hitters join AEG in Houston
by Ridge Mahoney, February 26th, 2008 6:45AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS] The league is adding two heavy-hitters to its lineup of operator-investors and in one case, the pun is intended. Houston Dynamo president and general manager Oliver Luck is meeting the media Tuesday to officially announce a partnership by which two companies will purchase 50 percent of the team. Boxer Oscar De La Hoya and his company, Golden Boy Productions, and one of its shareholders, Brener International Group, LLC, are joining MLS.

Each company, according to several media outlets, will hold a 25 percent share of the team. By terms of the deal Anschutz Entertainment Group, which moved the team from San Jose to Houston in December, 2005, will retain a half-share as the primary investor, which is a requirement under MLS regulations.

AEG and GBP began discussing a deal last summer and De La Hoya's group has spent the last few months on due diligence of team and league financial records and documents.

The announcement comes just one day before the Houston City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal by which the city would acquire five acres of downtown land for $15.5 million and trade rights for an additional acre to form a six-acre plot on which a stadium can be built.

AEG has an extensive real estate division, and one of De La Hoya's subsidiary companies, Golden Boy Partners, has invested in several development projects.

Buying the land does not obligate the city to use it for a soccer stadium, yet the location near downtown Houston could give the league an inner-city facility in the mold of Toronto and 2009 expansion entry Seattle.

The half-interest further reduces AEG's investments in teams other than the Galaxy and follows sales of the New York, D.C. United, and Chicago teams in the past two years. (AEG sold Colorado to entrepreneur Stan Kroenke in 2003).

De La Hoya formed GBP in 2002. The firm represents nearly 50 professional fighters and is a promotional arm of its athletes, scheduling events and running them. Some of the events have been co-promoted by AEG. De La Hoya, 34, has held six world titles in his career and currently boxes as a welterweight (140-147 pounds) or super welterweight (147-154). His next scheduled bout is at Home Depot Center May 3.

The other major player is a family owned firm headed by president and CEO Gabriel Brener with myriad business interests - real estate, communications, media, entertainment, high-tech companies, and financial services - often targeted toward the Hispanic market. Brener is of Mexican descent and, like De La Hoya, lives in Los Angeles.

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