LN Gets Copenhagen Arena

It won’t see the fruits of its labour for another three years, but Live Nation has beaten AEG in the battle to run the new arena in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Danish capital’s local authority announced the decision Dec. 9, ending a bidding process that stretches back to September 2008.

It’s an important strategic victory for LN, as losing out to its major rival would have given AEG control of a block of arenas in major European cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

It’s not a bad routing for a touring act, particularly an American one, that can afford the time to do only four shows in Germany and the Nordic region.

Roskilde University lecturer Fabian Holt, who specializes in music and events, described the arena tendering process as “a battle of giants.”

“It’s a battle for a market, which neither of the two players wants to lose,” he told Børsen, Denmark’s leading business paper.

It was also something of a turnaround, as AEG appeared to get a head start in winning the first tender to run the venue in 2009.

On that occasion, the project fell through because AEG couldn’t round up enough backers to fund the build.

What’s changed in the last two years is a study by London-based global construction consultants Davis Langdon. It showed it would be financially viable for city redevelopment agency Realdania, the city council and the City & Port Development organisation to pay for the building and lease it to the developer. City & Port Development owns the Ørestad site earmarked for the development.

Live Nation Denmark chief Flemming Schmidt played a tactical card by basing his company’s bid on the premise that it would be the better provider of content.

That left the local authority to ponder the (possibly) unspoken threat that Live Nation could starve its new venue of talent by switching arena-sized shows from Copenhagen to the 15,500-capacity Malmö Arena in Sweden.

Danish music fans would hardly be inconvenienced by the switch. It would mean crossing the border into Sweden to catch the act, but the bridge that links Malmö with Copenhagen means the journey is arguably less hassle than crossing London.

In most cases, it wouldn’t even be necessary to switch to Malmö. Family shows and musicals, or any event with multiple bookings, could easily have been accommodated in Copenhagen’s 5,000-capacity Forum.

Schmidt wouldn’t comment on whether he’d go as far as boycotting the arena, because talking to the media would contravene the rules of the bidding process.

Pia Allerslev, Copenhagen deputy mayor for culture and leisure, said the council is pleased to have “an operator with international experience in the operation of arenas.”

He said “it gives a good starting point for good events” and will help Copenhagen match up to cities like London, Berlin, Stockholm and Hamburg.

“The opportunity to manage a fabulous new arena, supported by the most prolific local promoter, makes eminent business sense and we are very pleased to be working with the developers to bring this project to fruition,” said LN chief operating officer Paul Latham.

Copenhagen city council has also announced that five teams of architects –whittled down from a field of 41 – have won through to the second phase of the tender to design the building.

The winner will be announced by the end of next year, and the arena – which is reportedly costing somewhere around 1 billion Danish kroner (nearly $180 million) – is scheduled to open in 2015.