The ongoing political battle between Live Nation and Nederlander-AEG to run Los Angeles’ iconic Greek Theatre has taken yet another turn that could have a major impact on which promoter ultimately wins the bid to run the historic Griffith Park venue.
On Monday afternoon (Jan. 26), a City Council committee voted 4-1 to reject the L.A. Recreation and Park’s Department’s recommendation from late October endorsing Live Nation’s proposal over the combined bid of Nederlander/AEG which has run the venue since 1975. The City Council Arts, Parks, Health, Aging & River Committee, made up of five members and led by councilman Mitch O’Farrell, issued its non-binding recommendation after reviewing the bids and receiving input from 12 neighborhood councils and testimony from various partisans.
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The committee’s recommendation is significant because its five members make up a third of the fifteen-member L.A. City Council and its decision influences the larger City Council which will likely vote on the matter without holding further hearings.
Following the decision, Live Nation issued the following statement: “We remain confident that the full City Council will be guided by the merits of our proposal — not the political strong-arm tactics of our opponent. Selecting Live Nation’s superior financial bid has far-reaching repercussions well beyond the Greek Theatre: much of the revenue generated by Live Nation will support critically-important Recreation and Parks programs throughout the entire city.”
Nederlander CEO Alex Hodges said in a statement his company was “pleased that the economic and other major benefits included in our proposal were recognized by the City Council’s committee. We are excited that the committee has rejected the Department of Recreation and Park’s initial recommendation for Live Nation.”
During last fall’s protracted Recreation and Parks Department hearings, an independent consultant scored Live Nation’s proposal significantly higher than Nederlander/AEG’s. Live Nation said their bid earned “91 percent of all possible points compared to [Nederlander’s] total of 79 percent.”
Nederlander, however, claimed its proposal wasn’t considered by the same standards as Live Nation’s — i.e. an “apples to apples” comparison. Some members of the Greek Theatre’s surrounding communities, especially in nearby Los Feliz, claimed the bidding process excluded their input.
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In addition to a City Council vote on the Greek Theatre contract, the political gauntlet ahead includes at least another round with Recreation and Parks and approval by Mayor Eric Garcetti. With time pressure mounting for the contract winner to book the Greek’s late-fall 2015 and spring 2016 seasons (Nederlander has the Greek concession through October 2015*), the longer this process goes on, the more difficult that task becomes.
Last year the Greek, with a capacity of 5,900, grossed nearly $23 million, resulting in $1.6 million in revenue-sharing for the city, according to the Recreation and Parks Department. The length of the contract is ten years with two potential five-year options to operate the concession for an additional ten years.
*Correction appended: A previous version of this story said the contract bidders need to begin booking the fall 2015 season, when in fact Nederlander has the Greek concession through October 2015.