U.S. entertainment giant AEG appears to be a shoo in to run shows in London’s Hyde Park now that Live Nation has pulled out, apparently unhappy with the bidding process.
LN has run events in the prestigious central London park for several years, including shows such as Live 8 and recent performances from the likes of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and Blur. But The Guardian now reckons LN backed off competing for a new contract because the tender process is “flawed.”
“We’re also good at walking away from things when they don’t makes sense,” LN UK chief ops officer John Probyn told Pollstar, claiming that at the moment confidentiality clauses prevent him from saying exactly why his company has written a formal letter of complaint about the tender and bid process for the new contract. He did make it clear that he’s not happy with the parks agency.
The Guardian said LN’s letter of complaint was about noise restrictions, crowd safety considerations in shutting off Park Lane – the central London thoroughfare that borders the park – and “unrealistic revenue assumptions.”
This would apparently leave the door open for arch rival AEG, which is currently up for sale. Winning the park contract would mean that AEG Europe chief exec Jay Marciano will have added some value, or at least some European cache, to the Los Angeles-based company.
Four years ago, AEG – with Stuart Galbraith’s Kilimanjaro Live – was the under-bidder when LN successfully pitched for the contract to run the park shows between 2009 and 2012. The contract that’s currently out to tender runs from 2013 to 2017, with a possible extension to 2019.
However, this time AEG is understood to have made its own bid for the new contract, and LN’s withdrawal may well mean it’s the last man standing.
Unless LN can show the bidding process run by the Royal Parks Agency – which overseas the parks for the government’s department for culture, media and sport – was flawed in any way, it’s expected that there will soon be an announcement that AEG has taken over programming at the famous outdoor venue.
Although LN has had problems in Hyde Park, particularly this summer with noise pollution and the weather, many in the industry would have considered it the favourite to hang on to the contract, largely because it also ran this summer’s Olympic events in the London parks and had what appeared to be a good relationship with the Royal Parks Agency.
The Parks’ communications department didn’t shed much light on the situation, adding, “The tender process for the contract to manage concerts in Hyde Park from 2013 to 2017 is ongoing and until it is complete it would not be appropriate to for the Royal Parks to discuss any details related to it.”
Marciano hadn’t responded to a request for comment at press time.