AEG Confirmed For Hyde Park

The agency that runs Hyde Park has confirmed that AEG Live will produce shows at the iconic London venue for the next five years, despite some howls of protest from rival Live Nation.

Three weeks ago LN, which has run events in the prestigious central London park for about 15 years, pulled out of the bidding process for the new contract because it felt the tender process was “flawed.”

With LN out of the way, it was hard to picture anyone besides AEG having the expertise and resources needed to take on the job.
Insiders at LN suggest AEG Live put in a much stronger financial offer but claim it was based on unrealistic revenue forecasts.
Next year the number of shows staged in the royal park will be cut and the maximum audience capacity reduced from 80,000 to 65,000.
AEG Live and The Royal Parks are understood to be working on six summer concerts each year and they’re also promising “an exciting new format developed exclusively for Hyde Park.”
“We’re good at walking away from things when they don’t make sense,” LN UK chief ops officer John Probyn told Pollstar Oct. 23, after his company withdrew from the bidding process.
At press time, it wasn’t possible to discover if LN will follow up on the formal letter of complaint it sent to The Royal Parks, the agency that also runs Green Park, Greenwich Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park , Richmond Park, St James’s Park and the prime minister’s garden.
The income The Royal Parks receives from the Hyde Park concerts is used to maintain and manage its parks portfolio, plus other open spaces such as Victoria Tower Gardens and Grosvenor Square Gardens.
Royal Parks chief exec Linda Lennon CBE’s comments about Hyde Park having “a successful track record of hosting popular large music events” likely riled Probyn, who heads the LN team that could arguably claim to have created that track record.
Probyn’s own track record for staging events in Hyde Park contributed to LN winning the contract to run the entertainment in London ‘s public spaces during the Olympics, a number of free-entry events intended to showcase the English capital’s appeal as a tourist destination.
LN has had problems in Hyde Park, particularly this year with unusually wet weather and local residents complaining about noise levels. The latter had LN controversially cutting the power on a duet between Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, fearing that they were about to run beyond the agreed curfew.
While LN may be mourning the loss of the Hyde Park contract, AEG is clearly relishing the prospect of taking over.
“AEG Live is proud to be partnering with The Royal Parks in the creation of an exceptional and ground-breaking new summer festival for London,” says AEG Europe president and chief exec Jay Marciano, having added some value, or at least some European cache, to the Los Angeles-based company that’s currently up for sale.
AEG Live president for international touring Rob Hallett says Hyde Park has traditionally attracted high-caliber artists and his firm’s plans for reinvigorating the venue with a new event already have the artist community very excited.  
Although LN backed out of the Hyde Park bidding process, it’s unlikely the company will back out of producing the events that have helped build the park’s reputation over the last decade or so.
There’s been no comment from LN on where it will stage such gatherings as Hard Rock Calling and Wireless Festival, two Hyde Park regulars, although Probyn has been public about focusing on new venues for these events.
 The shortlist would likely include the defunct London Pleasure Gardens, an open space run by London’s Newham Council that has the potential hold to hold 40,000-plus.
Earlier in the year, Newham Council, which had previously partnered with West Ham United soccer club and Live Nation in a bid to use London’s Olympic Stadium, said it wants to transform the former industrial site at The Royal Docks into a waterside, urban festival ground to “celebrate the very best of cutting-edge London culture.”
Another option, if only in the short term, may be Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, which this year had its revenues scythed by the cancellation of the UK leg of Sonisphere Festival.
The expansive country pile near Watford has the advantages of being close to London and having a huge site, but the narrow country roads that serve it have resulted in some lengthy traffic jams.