March 24, 2013
The walls and shelves of Dan Beckerman's downtown Los Angeles office speak more about his largely unknown but deep involvement in AEG's success than Beckerman himself is comfortable saying.
Boxing gloves vie for space with a football from the defunct Avengers Arena Football League team, replicas of Lakers championship rings, and a photograph of the groundbreaking ceremony for Staples Center, whose massive and complicated financing Beckerman arranged. But there's one photo he regards with near-awe: It depicts Beckerman, an Iowa native who knew little about hockey until the Kings hired him to be their chief financial officer in 1997, happily hoisting the Stanley Cup on the ice at Staples Center last June.
"Whenever I need a pick-me-up I look over at this picture here," he said. "If I'm having a bad day that puts me in a good mood real quick."
Beckerman, 43, has a lot to be happy about these days.
After years crunching numbers and securing financing for AEG's many properties, first with the Kings and then as the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of AEG, Beckerman was promoted to chief executive and president of the Philip Anschutz-owned company March 14. The stunning shake-up, which coincided with Anschutz's announcement he had terminated efforts to sell AEG, put Beckerman in the role previously held by Tim Leiweke, whose departure was described in a press release as by mutual decision.
It was Leiweke who had recruited Beckerman away from his job as vice president of finance for the Clippers and mentored Beckerman through the thicket of corporate life. And it was Leiweke who had become the face of AEG to politicians, sports fans and dealmakers as the company's presence grew locally and globally.
But where Leiweke was highly visible, an unabashed fan of the Kings and Galaxy, bold and sometimes hands-on, Beckerman has a quiet style that makes it likely he will stay in the background when he can. That won't make Beckerman any less effective than Leiweke — a softer voice but potentially no less persuasive as he hits stride in his new role.
Speaking to The Times in his first public comments since his promotion, Beckerman on Saturday declined to discuss the status of the company's pursuit of an NFL team. However, he reaffirmed AEG's commitment to the Kings and Galaxy, saying that fans who wonder how the changes will affect the teams they love should know "they're the teams I love."
Beckerman said nothing will change in AEG's dealings with Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi and Galaxy GM/Coach Bruce Arena and that the goal remains for each team to repeat as champion of its respective league.
"We have a lot invested in those and they're valuable, valuable assets for AEG. They're iconic brands and they're the cornerstones of this company," Beckerman said in his light-filled but modest office at the L.A. Live complex.
"And for me personally, I started with the Kings and the second thing I had was the Galaxy. So you can look behind me and see the greatest accomplishments of my career and the happiest moments that I've had are with the Kings and the Galaxy and winning those championships. My job is to support those guys and give them the resources they need to be successful and they obviously have been successful."
Beckerman, who moved to Los Angeles as a child and got his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UCLA, joined AEG in 1997. When Anschutz bought the Galaxy a year later, Beckerman got a quick education about soccer.
"The league had so few owners at the time that once you get in, you're heavily involved," he said.
Beckerman, the father of two young daughters, attends as many Kings and Galaxy games as he can. And because Anschutz owns 30% of the Lakers, Beckerman said he works closely with the NBA team.
"But almost more in the context of Staples Center than anything else," he said. "We're here to support them. They have an unbelievable operation. They run that business and they run it extremely well — probably the best in the business."
Beckerman himself has gone from a behind-the-scenes supporting role to becoming a principal player on the local sports scene. "You say people don't know me. I've always been there," he said, speaking softly but firmly, which may come to define how he operates as a leader.
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