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Ye Is Bringing Music Back to the L.A. Coliseum (And They’ve Got a Place For Him to Stay)

The LA Memorial Coliseum's Teresa Guy talks bringing live music back to the stadium with Ye and Drake and how the venue is tackling the once-in-a-lifetime event.

There’s a rare chance for rain on Thursday (Dec. 9) in Los Angeles, but regardless of the weather, music fans are expected to fill the stands at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time since the pandemic for a once-in-a-lifetime show. Ye (known as Kanye West for most of his career) & Drake have famously squashed their long-running feud in order to come together for the Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert, which Coliseum director of booking and partnerships Teresa Guy says is an incredible event to bring music back to the historic landmark.

“Bringing together two icons and legends in the hip-hop space at such an iconic venue, you can’t really get better than that,” says Guy.

The Coliseum was in talks with Ye’s team to hold a concert or Sunday Service prior to the pandemic, right after the Los Angeles National Historic Landmark underwent a $315 million renovation that saw every seat replaced in the now 77,000-capacity stadium. But this particular benefit concert came together in a matter of months and marks Ye’s first headlining stadium concert in five years. Much like the Donda release parties at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Chicago’s Soldier Field in August, Ye has been deeply ingrained in the details for tomorrow night’s show.

Even prior to the show build, Ye “has been here for walk-throughs, been heavily involved in the creative elements and is working very closely with his creative team in terms of vision and execution,” says Guy.

She adds that the Coliseum has set up space for Ye to stay in the venue in case the rapper requests it. “That is absolutely an option for him. Getting in the head space and in the zone is a real thing for him,” Guy tells Billboard.

The Coliseum’s history with Ye’s team made it an attractive venue for an event requiring a quick turnaround. The concert is set to benefit Chicago gang leader Larry Hoover, who is currently serving six life sentences in prison. Hoover, 71, has been in jail since 1973 and is seeking release with help from the Grammy-winning Ye. The Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert intends to raise awareness and support for Hoover and the cause of prison and sentencing reform. Advocacy groups benefiting from the performance include Hustle 2.0, Ex-Cons For Community And Social Change and Uptown People’s Law Center. The event will also stream globally on Prime Video, the Amazon Music app and Amazon’s Twitch channel for free.

Guy says the level of creativity for the benefit is unlike anything she’s seen in her 15 years of experience and promises an immersive event for fans. Despite the concert being a one-off event in L.A., she believes the production could be used for a future Donda stadium tour.

“He released Donda earlier this year so to envision a tour supporting that album is not far-fetched at all,” says Guy. “Who’s to say the production that they envision and carry out at the Coliseum won’t be carried out in other cities across the nation?”

Exclusive Ye merchandise will also be a feature of tomorrow night’s performance with multiple stands inside the venue grounds. An additional merch stand will be stationed immediately outside the stadium at Exposition Park to “help handle the interest in that element.”

Tickets are still available for the Free Larry Hoover Benefit Concert set to take place tomorrow in Los Angeles. Amazon Music will live stream the event in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide at 8 p.m. PT and make it available on demand following the event. Additionally, IMAX will live stream the benefit concert tomorrow in select theaters across the United States in an exclusive, one-night-only IMAX Live event.