AEG Makes Swede Deal

The news that AEG will run the Stockholm Globe may be only a trailer for more announcements saying the Los Angeles-based venue operator and live music promoter will continue to strengthen its ties with the local city hall.

Although City Of Stockholm chief of staff Torbjörn Johansson claims AEG "recently established themselves in Sweden," the U.S. giant has had a presence in Stockholm – and been part-owner of at least one sports team that plays at the venues Johansson represents – for close to eight years.

Neither Johansson, Per Magnusson from AEG, nor Andreas Åström from the local government’s press office for culture and sport are responding to Pollstar questions about the likelihood of Philip Anschutz’s company building and operating a new stadium in Stockholm. AEG has venues worldwide in cities including Los Angeles, Brisbane, Beijing, London and Hamburg.

But there are still good reasons to believe that AEG and the city governors might see it as an ideal solution. Giving AEG the running of The Globe, where it already has part-ownership of a soccer team and an ice hockey team, could be another cuddle leading to a closer relationship.

If that’s the case, it’s unlikely Stockholm City Hall would sour it all over the contract for the running of The Globe.

The complex’s biggest live music customer is Live Nation, although according to Thomas Johansson – LN’s Stockholm-based international chairman and the Nordic region’s major promoter – his team was never in the hunt to run the Globe venues.

When Johansson said AEG has only "recently established" in Sweden, it’s true on the live front and it attracted major media coverage.

LN and AEG got into a turf war when two key players, David Maloney and Mikael Tillman, quit the former last September to set up a Scandinavian touring business for AEG.

AEG has since snatched the major part of the booking of Hultsfred Festival, still regarded as Sweden’s most prestigious outdoor, by buying the company that had historically had the contract to handle it.

LN previously provided most of the international acts for the 30,000-capacity event. It responded by booking Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Hives, Dirty Pretty Things, Dinosaur Jr., The Hellacopters, Mando Diao and Sahara Hotnights to play a 20,000-capacity June 14 outdoor on the Stockholm University campus – seemingly aimed at spoiling Hultsfred’s June 14-16 weekend.

It’s unlikely the scrap would have extended to the running of The Globe or the building of a new stadium, particularly as LN doesn’t build venues and stresses it’s a "music company."

Stockholm was first promised a new building in the mid-’90s, when Mats Hulth and his Social Democrats were trying to grab back control of the city from the "liberal conservative" Moderate Party. After 12 years and two more changes of city government, the Swedish capital was still no nearer to getting its new stadium.

As the 16,200-capacity Söder Stadium, part of The Globe complex, is due to be demolished to make way for a residential development, a new building appears to have become a more pressing issue for the city’s 2 million inhabitants.

Prior to Stockholm’s 2006 municipal elections, Kristina Axén Olin – who went on to become mayor – and her Moderates not only pledged that the stadium would be started within their next term of office, but also said it would be built without the local tax payers having to fork out a cent.

A few months later in June 2007, Hammarby IF soccer club, which is roughly half-owned by AEG and plays its home matches at Söder, announced it would be building a new ground at a cost of euro 116 million ($182 million).

"It’s a lot of money but it’s going to be a fantastic arena," Hammarby IF chief exec Henrik Appelqvist told Aftonbladet at the time.

"Now it’s up to us to get hold of the money. The exact setup of the financing is still being discussed but there is a lot of interest out there," he added.

Åström says Stockholm city council expects to have more news on the stadium in August, although he said he couldn’t forecast if it would be before or after The Globe-AEG deal is inked.

Mayor Olin, whose party promised the free stadium, resigned in the middle of April, reportedly because of what the Swedish media referred to as "family matters."

But having AEG build the venue as the new home for the soccer team it co-owns – currently sixth in the Allsvenskan (Premier League) – would honour the election promise about the people of Stockholm not having to pick up the tab.