Update: Live Nation Wins Round In Greek Theatre Bid

Live Nation’s bid for the concession contract to operate  in Los Angeles will be forwarded to the City Council for approval on a 3-0 vote by L.A.’s Recreation and Parks Commission Oct. 23. 

Commissioner Iris Zuniga, who was the board’s lone holdout at its Oct. 16 meeting that failed to approve a bid, changed her vote in Live Nation’s favor and thus sent the question to the City Council committee overseeing parks. Another packed house, divided into red and green shirts, at the city’s Friendship Auditorium in Griffith Park greeted the commissioners.

And another long line of speakers supporting either Nederlander-AEG or Live Nation took up the morning’s agenda. The iconic Greek Theatre has for the last nearly 40 years been operated by a Nederlander company. Live Nation stunned the Nederlander-AEG partnership when its bid was recommended by RAP staff in late September to the full commission for approval and start of negotiations on a 10-year, two-extension contract.

The RAP vote, while significant for Live Nation, isn’t the end of the process, however. Before the contract can be finalized, the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti must sign off on it. In the meantime, Nederlander Concerts will continue to operate the Greek until its current extension ends in October 2015.

“Live Nation is pleased that the Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously selected our company to be the new operator of the Greek Theatre,” the company said immediately after the vote.

“The Greek is an incredible Los Angeles treasure, owned by the people of this city. “We look forward to setting a new standard for this iconic venue, investing heavily to return it to its rightful place as a world-class entertainment destination for fans and artists while being sensitive to neighbors in the surrounding community.” It’s doubtful this is the last word, however.

Nederlander has raised questions about the bidding process, accusing Live Nation of including a prohibited rent abatement in its bid, and hinting through its lawyer that it may wind up in court.

“Nederlander Concerts and AEG Live are disappointed that the Board did not carefully consider the overwhelming evidence that the panel’s decision was premised on significant errors that infected the entire process,” Nederlander Concert CEO Alex Hodges said. “Today’s recommendation could cost the city and taxpayers as much as $20 million, over the full length of the contract.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the City Council Committee on Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River and encourage them to consider the issues that have been raised and not addressed when the Live Nation proposal is before them. We are extremely grateful for all the community support we have received, including the 27,000 people who have signed a petition in support of our operation and vision for the Greek Theatre,” Hodges said.

In the days leading up to the RAP vote, Nederlander-AEG said Live Nation was able to sweeten the pot unfairly in its bid because it transferred financial risk to the city in the form of a prohibited rent relief exception, regardless of whether the language can be removed in contract negotiations.

A Live Nation spokeswoman was quick to respond to Nederlander-AEG’s allegation. “The rent abatement language in no way limited the total $106 million financials. Live Nation clarified to RAP and the Commission that the company will pay the minimum guaranteed revenue share at all times,” Live Nation responded. “Live Nation’s guaranteed financial bid is at a minimum almost $10 million higher overall. Our total bid was scored significantly higher. Live Nation secured 91 percent of all points. Nederlander, 79 percent. 

“Live Nation was the unanimous choice by every member of the judging panel. The City is embracing Live Nation’s vision and the fact we’re investing far more to deliver that vision. The facts are clear.”