D.C. United sold to local investor group
D.C. United and AEG announced today sale of the four-time MLS Cup champions to Global Sports and Entertainment, subject to formal approval by Major League Soccer. United President and CEO Kevin Payne will head the newly formed ownership group, which includes local businessmen Willi Lauterbach and Tim Kissler, as well as several other investors. The purchase price was not disclosed, but is the largest paid to date for a Major League Soccer team.
"D.C. United has been the preeminent franchise and role model for other organizations within Major League Soccer," said Timothy J. Leiweke, President & CEO, AEG. "Under the guidance and management of Kevin Payne, United has consistently been a force, both on and off the pitch, and has played a significant role in the overall success and growth of our League."
"This sale was a difficult decision for our organization, as the franchise has always been a favorite," Leiweke added. "However, the transaction will enable us to focus our attention on other teams and the continued development of state-of-the-art stadiums for these franchises. GSE will be great partners for MLS and, together with Kevin Payne's continued leadership, will excel and, in particular, will be the driving force of great long-term economic impact for the region through the development of their new stadium."
Under terms of the sale, the team will continue to be operated by AEG, with Payne continuing as United President and CEO, until the final closing, expected to take place early next year. The purchase agreement is binding on both parties.
"This is a very important and exciting day for D.C. United, for our League, and for me personally," said Payne. "I speak for all of our dedicated staff and players when I express my deep appreciation for AEG, Tim Leiweke, and the tremendous support we at D.C. United have always enjoyed as a part of the world's number one sports and entertainment company."
On December 17, 1993, Major League Soccer was formed as a promise to FIFA after the United States was awarded the 1994 World Cup. In the summer of 1994, Washington, DC was among the first seven cities selected to serve as home to an MLS franchise. On November 16, API Soccer, headed by Payne, was announced as United's first ownership group. On February 15, 2001, AEG purchased the operating rights to D.C. United.
"With Willi Lauterbach, his partners and Kevin Payne leading the new ownership group and with plans and momentum for a new stadium, D.C. United can continue to look forward to building on the success of recent years with the Anschutz Entertainment Group," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
In addition to seeing substantial successes on the field, D.C. United's many team-run, community-building programs and numerous appearances made by players each week are a part of the club's long-standing commitment to Greater Washington, DC. On January 8, 2002, the organization also created a separate 501(c)3 non-profit arm to further the positive impact on those around the team. United for D.C. serves the Washington, DC area through the creation or support of programs, events and organizations that advance the educational and social welfare opportunities for the area's youth, particularly those in need. United for D.C. focuses many of its efforts on teaching young people fundamental life skills, often using soccer as a tool to help energize its work. The foundation funds and supports United Reads reading programs in four inner-city public schools, impacting 1,600 children per year, with plans to add several more schools over the next years, as well as serves as a founding and sustaining supporter of DC SCORES, the nationally recognized after-school soccer and writing program which serves hundreds of young people in disadvantaged communities in the District. United for D.C. recently provided $25,000 to fund a six-week, DC SCORES summer camp in the Nation's Capital.