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Exclusive Q&A: Irving Azoff on the Bidding War for L.A.'s Iconic Greek Theatre
The longtime Angelino and former Live Nation chairman puts the battle for the Greek in perspective
The world's two largest promoters, Live Nation and AEG in partnership with the Nederlander, are on pins and needles and then some. They await word from the LA Department of Recreation and Parks on which proposal it will endorse for a ten-year, multimillion dollar contract to run the city's iconic Greek Theatre.
But with independent consultants, fierce public relations campaigns, community activists and swirling political winds that have twice led the city agency to postpone its decision, nobody knows for sure what will happen at this Thursday's (Oct. 23) Rec & Parks commission meeting where a decision is expected.
Billboard caught up with music executive Irving Azoff -- whose experience runs form working with government-owned venues to running major music companies (he is current chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment and a former chairman of Live Nation) as well as being a longtime Angelino who's been to the Greek too many times to count -- to get his insights into the proceedings.
Billboard: Have you worked with government-owned venues before? If so, how easy or difficult a relationship is that to manage?
Irving Azoff: When I was CEO of MCA Universal Music Entertainment Group, we successfully bid to run the the L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena. It was governed by a joint city-county-state Coliseum commission. I've never seen a more difficult, complicated process. So nothing surprises me about the Greek bidding process being so dysfunctional.
What do you think is happening behind the scenes of the promotion companies' as this bid is being decided?
I'm sure a lot of lawyers and lobbyists are sending big bills!
If you or your company were involved in this process, what would you recommend doing to win the bid?
My company and MSG elected to not participate because I have no idea how to win it. Two things are certain: Public company life and political life are way too complicated and unpredictable for me.
As a Los Angeles resident, how would you like to see venue improved?
Better concessions, great restaurants and better artist areas… a better parking solution too.
What do you think of the pop-up box currently on the Greek Theatre homepage that encourages users to support Nederlander/AEG's bid for the Greek?
As the incumbent I guess Nederlander can do what they want on the site. I don’t understand them partnering with AEG since AEG has to worry about [filling the similarly-sized] Nokia Theatre. Live Nation would have been a better partner, as they no longer have a similar-sized theatre to the Greek Theatre and are much bigger buyers of talent.
The process with city government seems strange compared to what happens in the private sector. An independent panel of experts assembled by the city agency rated one proposal higher than the other and so far has not awarded it to that bidder, what's your take?
I agree with you.
What was your favorite show you've seen at the Greek?
My first time there ever I saw "Richard Doolittle presents Chicago"
That must have been before Nederlander began running the Greek in 1976. What was it like then?
Pretty much the same experience as now. The shows at the Greek then were usually booked for like five- to seven-night runs. I saw Chicago and Elton John there. As a kid from Illinois it blew my mind.