Group discusses buying D.C. United

Anschutz Entertainment Group is in talks to sell D.C. United to an investment group led by Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks.

The potential buyer, who reportedly also includes District businessman Corey Barnette and former Duke University basketball player Brian Davis, has signed a letter of intent to purchase the team, according to city officials familiar with the process. A contract could be completed by month’s end, although other sources said it might not be done for months and that the letter of intent offers no guarantee of the sale being finalized. Team officials declined to confirm talks with any specific group.

“Discussions regarding the sale of the team, in general, are ongoing and it’s not likely anything will happen for some time,” D.C. United spokesman Doug Hicks said.

News of the potential sale was first reported yesterday in the online version of the Washington Business Journal.

The Major League Soccer team likely will sell for about $25 million, the same amount that AEG received from its sale of the MetroStars, now known as the New York Red Bulls.

AEG, run by billionaire publisher Philip Anschutz, also owns MLS’ Houston Dynamo, Los Angeles Galaxy, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA. The group was close to a sale of D.C. United to a local investment group last year, but the deal fell through.

The sale of the team would come at a time when city officials are awaiting the transfer of land from the federal government to be used for the construction of a new soccer-only stadium for D.C. United. The stadium would be owned by the team, but the city is helping guide the construction of a housing and retail district around it. The land transfer is being debated by Congress, which has been unable to agree on whether to provide the land to the District for free or require payment.

Meanwhile, Hendricks’ involvement would mark a re-entry into the soccer world. He founded the Women’s United Soccer Association and was majority owner of the Washington Freedom, both of which ceased operations in 2003.

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