The Los Angeles City Council rejected a proposal Wednesday for Live Nation to take over operation of the Greek Theatre and suggested instead that the city seek new bids for the management of the Griffith Park concert venue.
Several council members said a competing proposal by longtime venue operator Nederlander and AEG offered more guaranteed revenue for the city in the form of rent, but the vote did not automatically grant the contract to Nederlander.
The city, however, could also choose to temporarily extend Nederlander’s concession contract if officials decide to conduct a new bidding process for an operator.
The City Attorney’s Office advised the council that its vote is only advisory in nature, and the Recreation and Parks Department could technically still negotiate a contract with Live Nation, since it emerged as the preferred operator in the bidding process. The resulting agreement, however, would have to return to the council for consideration.
The council’s 11-3 vote, which came after more than an hour of debate, mirrored a decision by the council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee last month to reject Live Nation’s proposal.
The city’s Recreation and Parks Commission voted in October to contract with Live Nation instead of sticking with Nederlander.
As with past meetings, hundreds of backers of each bidder — dressed in their respective colors of red for Live Nation and green for Nederlander/AEG — turned up for today’s vote.
Many residents near the Greek Theatre have come out in favor of Nederlander, which has been the operator for nearly 40 years, saying they are concerned Live Nation would not be as sensitive about concert noise and traffic congestion affecting the surrounding neighborhood.
Some council members today noted the neighbors’ concerns, including Tom LaBonge, who represents residents who live along the path concert-goers take to get to the theatre.
Nederlander, which recently teamed up with Anschutz Entertainment Group to bid on the new agreement, has also argued that its package promises $17.5 million more in rent revenue — the only dollars guaranteed to go into the city’s coffers.
But Live Nation officials say their proposal scored higher than Nederlander’s and offered more money for improvements to the facility, including $25 million in the first year of the contract, while Nederlander proposed spending $18 million in the first two years on upgrades to the facility.
Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Mike Shull argued that the department designed the bidding process to favor proposals that offered to pay more for improvements to the venue facility.
Shull said last month that while Nederlander guaranteed more in rent, the upgrades to the venue are important because “investing in our facilities is something we don’t do very well in the city.”
Three council members sided with Live Nation today, including Joe Buscaino, who tore up several sheets of paper to illustrate what he feels is his colleagues disrespecting the bidding process.
“If we don’t uphold this process,” he said, “we are confirming the worst stereotypes about Los Angeles being a difficult place to do business.”
He added that he feels the lineups at Greek Theatre often include “a whole bunch of people I’ve never heard of,” and said Live Nation would likely do a better job of booking more shows.
“The Greek Theatre, colleagues, is an asset for the entire city of Los Angeles, and it should be run like a business,” he said.
Council members said the Greek Theatre represents the Recreation and Parks Department’s single largest budget item.
Live Nation’s venues in Los Angeles include the Wiltern and the Hollywood Palladium. The company also ran the recent Made in America Festival at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.
Nederlander operates the Pantages Theatre and the City National Grove of Anaheim.
— City News Service