The operator of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday (Sept. 6) claiming that L.A. Arena Company, a subsidiary of Anschutz Entertainment Group, violated an exclusive bookin

The operator of the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday (Sept. 6) claiming that L.A. Arena Company, a subsidiary of Anschutz Entertainment Group, violated an exclusive booking contract.

Forum Enterprises Inc. (FEI) claims the L.A. Arena Company scheduled too few events and diverted business to other AEG-affiliated venues.

Since the 18,000-seat Forum entered into agreements with the company approximately six years ago, the amount of events booked "has not happened at any significant level," FEI attorney Johnny Griggs tells Billboard.biz.

FEI operates the Forum, which is owned by the Faithful Central Bible Church.
The suit alleges that AEG, which owns and operates Los Angeles' Staples Center and other venues in Southern California, used its exclusive rights to try and put the Forum out of business.

AEG also used information it obtained as the Forum's booking agent to divert events from going into the arena, and instead placing them in venues owned and/or by controlled by AEG, according to the claim.

"The lawsuit is really about AEG's anti-competitive behavior in the market, as well as its failure to perform under the agreement," Griggs says, adding that about 12 events were booked at the Forum in the past year.

"Ten of them were booked by and through the efforts of the Forum and its agents, rather than the efforts of AEG."

Michael Roth, VP of communications at AEG, says the lawsuit is nothing more than an effort to circumvent the exclusive rights that were granted to AEG.

"We categorically deny all of the allegations made by the FEI in their complaint," Roth says. "Not only will we vigorously defend ourselves against these merit-less allegations, (but) we intend to pursue claims against FEI for their breeches of the booking agreement which has been in place since they acquired the Forum from AEG nearly six years ago."

The lawsuit -- which also names Anschutz Corp., AEG Live, AEG Concerts and Goldenvoice -- seeks $5 million for lost revenue over the years. Griggs believes the sum is conservative.

"We're just at the beginning," the attorney says. "We'll be determining with more precision how much is at issue."

The booking contract was intended to last through Dec. 31, 2010, but a notice of the contract's termination was issued to AEG Sept. 5, according to Griggs.

"The contract was breached by AEG, and therefore we served them a notice terminating the contract on the grounds that they have not fulfilled it," he says.

At press time, Roth wasn't aware of the notice of termination.

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