Live Nation Files Legal Appeal After AEG Renews Hyde Park Agreement With London's Royal Parks: Exclusive

Bob Dylan
Jo Hale/Redferns

Bob Dylan performs on stage at Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Hyde Park at Hyde Park on July 12, 2019 in London, England.

Live Nation is protesting a recent decision by London's Royal Parks to renew AEG's contract to bring concerts to Hyde Park, Billboard has learned.   

The legal filing seeks to challenge Royal Park's handling of the bid process for a six-year permit to stage concerts in the the central London park where AEG has staged the British Summer Time concert series since 2012. Hyde Park is one of eight parks owned by England's royal family and managed by the Royal Parks non-profit, which oversees 5,000 acres of parkland across London.    

"We are confident we have run the procurement process in accordance with the law. It would be inappropriate to comment while matters are ongoing," a spokesperson for Royal Parks told Billboard in a statement.   

The appeal comes after AEG wrapped its seventh season at the park with a concert by Robbie Williams on July 14. The annual six-concert series held in central London's Hyde Park has featured everyone from The Rolling Stones to Taylor Swift as well as BlurBlack SabbathThe WhoBon Jovi and Neil Young.

Earlier this year, Royal Parks rejected a competing bid from Live Nation and renewed AEG's contract to stage concerts at the park through 2025, extending a deal first signed in 2012 and re-upped for two additional years in 2017. The contract to stage had previously been held by Live Nation since 2001, but the promoter dropped its 2012 bid to stage concerts at Hyde Park in protest of noise requirements and "flawed" logistical demands by Royal Parks. 

Hyde Park was one of eight global locations for the Live 8 concert series, and was the original home of both the Wireless Festival and Hard Rock Calling. Prior to pulling out of the bid, Live Nation staged 25 concerts in Hyde Park in 2012 in honor the Summer Olympic Games.

But sound issues at the park — including a famous a mic failure during a duet between Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney — along with disagreements over whether artists like Rihanna and Drake were "appropriate for the park" coupled with "unrealistic revenue assumptions" ultimately led Live Nation to walk away from discussions to extend its previous four-year contract through 2017. 

"No promoter could go in and decently run a gig for more than we offered. I'm not prepared to go on as a loss maker," explained John Probyn, chief operating officer of Live Nation in 2012 during an interview with NME

"People always see the promoters as the greedy guys who take the money. Trust me, at Hyde Park we didn't."

AEG staged the first British Summer Time concert series in 2013 and for the first two years, the series hemorrhaged money, ballooning AEG Live UK's operating loss to $9.7 million, according to the company's financial statements. Those losses were offset by the $20 million in profit AEG earned operating London's O2 Arena that same year.

In 2017, AEG sold out all six nights of concerts at the 65,000-cap public park-turned temporary concert venue. Barclays is the title sponsor for the series, which each night is anchored around a headliner and a supporting lineup, which can include more than a dozen artists. When Florence + the Machine headlined on July 13, they were joined by 14 opening artists including The National and Lykke Li.

Billboard reached out to Royal Parks for additional comment and a spokesperson for the organization said, "It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing procurement process." Billboard also reached out to reps at AEG and was told that company officials had no comment. Billboard also contacted Live Nation and will update this story once it receives a comment.