Global Spectrum’s Merger Viewpoint

For all the dialog the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger generates, few in the concert industry have expressed their opinions in the public arena. And when it comes to those in support and in the Congressional Record, it’s one person: Peter Luukko.

The Global Spectrum chairman testified in support of the merger before the U.S. House of Representatives’ courts and competition policy subcommittee in late February.

Much has been said of outspoken critics such as Jam Productions’ Jerry Mickelson and I.M.P.’s Seth Hurwitz, who testified next to the principals of Live Nation and Ticketmaster at a Senate subcommittee.

But, with so few talking on the record either for or against (notable exceptions include AEG’s Tim Leiweke and Randy Phillips), anyone who makes comment either way is an exception.

There are obvious reasons to keep a low profile, be it to maintain decorum with TM and Live Nation or to avoid conflict with critics. No matter what happens with the merger, everyone will still have to deal with the participants. Why burn bridges?

Luukko admitted as much but decided his input outweighed the consequences.

“Well, you know, you can’t be all things to all people,” he told Pollstar, adding that some might be keeping quiet because they don’t want to be called in front of Congress like he was.

Global Spectrum – facility operator of Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center along with more than 80 other venues – competes with Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment with its own ticketing system, New Era. While New Era uses software designed by Paciolan – a company that was absorbed by Ticketmaster a few years back – Global Spectrum owns the front end.

“We’re coming at it from a couple of perspectives,” Luukko said. “We’ve competed with Ticketmaster in the past and we still compete with them in the [Philadelphia] market. So we really view it as a vertical merger.”

Through parent company Comcast-Spectacor, Global Spectrum is associated with Philadelphia sports teams the 76ers and Flyers and, because the building they play in is owned by Comcast-Spectacor, they can choose their ticketing system. In this case it’s New Era, but teams in similar scenarios can pick, Veritix, Wilma’s Homemade Tickets – whatever. It doesn’t have to be Ticketmaster.

To paraphrase Luukko, the merger does not adversely affect sports venues; what it does is help with the dates in between games. Put even more simply, competition from Ticketmaster isn’t an issue while the upside is more product from Live Nation – a company that Global Spectrum has a long relationship with via Philly’s biggest promoter, Larry Magid.

“They’ll have more income streams to draw off of and be able to take better calculated risks, I believe,” Luukko said. “From an operator’s standpoint, if it gives a new company the opportunity to take more risk and to put together more tours, and to put more product out there in the marketplace, then we’re for it.”