Sydney Entertainment Center In Jeopardy

Citing difficult lease terms at the Sydney Entertainment Center, venue operator Arena Management has gone into voluntary receivership.

Arena Management executive director Kevin Jacobsen, a well-known Australian entertainment impresario, told Pollstar his company just couldn’t make money under the terms of the lease with the venue’s operating body, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

“This is just to bring everything to a head, rather than to continue trading with nowhere to go, just continued losses,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen also says the nearby Acer Arena, operated by AEG and owned by the same New South Wales Government, has more favorable terms that put it at a competitive advantage, despite already being a younger venue that’s only about 20 miles away.

The lease was signed in October 2008, after Arena Management had operated the 13,000-capacity venue since its 1983 debut. The terms required Arena to hand over 25 percent of all gross earnings from events, including food and beverage and merchandise, or 50 percent “if we were making money,” Jacobsen said.

Other venue operators, including AEG and Live Nation, looked into taking over the lease but there was “an unlikely profitable outcome, due to the fixed cost of rents and conditions imposed by the Sydney Foreshore Authority,” Jacobsen said.

AEG Ogden reportedly came close to taking over but pulled out, claiming there were serious problems with Arena’s finances.

“In short the business is, in our view, a shemozzle,” AEG Ogden chief Harvey Lister told The Australian. Jacobsen contends that AEG pulled out only because it was not granted permission by regulatory authority ACCC to run such a similar venue in close proximity to the SEC.

To keep the company afloat, Jacobsen says he had to sell the other venue the company ran, the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, as well as bring in $1.7 million from another company he owns, Campbell Street Theatre Company. The receivership was instigated by Campbell Street.

Jacobsen expects the Foreshore Authority to rehire the staff and continue operations at the venue, of which his company still owns $3 million worth of working assets, he says, including the phones, booking systems and computers.