Live Nation Australia will operate the Palais Theatre after securing a long-term lease for the famed venue in St Kilda, south Melbourne.
According to reports, LN has won a 30-year management lease which will kick in from April 1, 2017. The live music giant is expected to invest almost AUS$60 million ($45 million) into maintenance for the 89-year-old, 2,800-capacity site, The Age reports, with AUS$7.3 million ($5.5 million) earmarked for redevelopment and upgrades within the first five years of the deal.
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With the contract on the Palais, LN’s vertically-integrated Australasian empire can boast a triple-threat model combining concert promoter, ticketing (Ticketmaster) and now venue activities.
Live Nation won the lease and operational rights on the much-loved venue following a “rigorous tender process” which “met or exceeded all our objectives,” the City of Port Phillip authority notes in a statement. Sydney-based Playbill, which operates the Hordern Pavilion and several other venues, was the other party to reach the final stage of consideration.
Michael Coppel, Melbourne-based president and CEO of Live Nation Australia and New Zealand, says: “Live Nation Australia is thrilled to have been successful in securing the rights to operate the Palais Theatre. Both as a major presenter of live events and as a Melbourne-based and staffed music business firm, we are very aware of how important the venue is to the St Kilda community and to the people of Melbourne in general, and what a very special performance space it is.”
Live Nation has also helped set up the Palais Theatre Community Fund (PTCF) which will be funded by a $0.50 contribution from every ticket sold and is expected to generate up to AUS$4 million ($3 million).
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Coppel adds, “To have been granted stewardship of this iconic venue carries a great responsibility, and we will seek to restore the Palais to its former glories, to better adapt it to the changing requirements.”`
Earlier in the year, Port Phillip split with incumbent operator Neil Croker, who guided the Palais’ fortunes since 2007 and built its business from roughly 25 shows a year to 110 last year, with annual ticket sales rising from 30,000 to about 250,000.
Croker “built it into a great venue, and he’s been f***ed over,” veteran promoter Michael Chugg told Billboard after Croker’s departure. “It’s sad.”
Rival Australian concert promoters had raised concerns of the commercial impact of the concerts giant locking up an operational contract with one of Melbourne’s key venues.
LN sought to assuage these concerns. “Since Live Nation’s integrated business model includes venue management, concert promotion and ticketing,” the company writes in a statement, “extensive consideration has been given to the development of a Fair Competition and Confidentiality Policy for the hire of the Palais Theatre, which will be subject to approval by the Council.”