A Los Angeles councilman said Tuesday he is in disbelief at the idea of the city taking over operation of the Greek Theatre, but was unable to convince his colleagues to intervene in the Recreation and Parks Department’s decision to stop using an outside management firm.
Councilman Paul Koretz told reporters that he is “completely flabbergasted by the idea that our city’s Department of Recreation and Parks wants to run the Greek Theatre” after being given the opportunity to consider “two absolutely world class, top-of-the-line proposals by proven venue operators.”
Instead of re-examining the bid proposals from Live Nation and Nederlander Concerts, which has run the outdoor concert venue for about 40 years, the Recreation and Parks commission “tossed out these two premium bids” and decided the city would run the theater itself, Koretz said.
The Los Angeles City Council revisited the management of the Greek Theatre Tuesday at Koretz’s request, with the councilman pushing his colleagues to intervene to have the Recreation and Parks Department drop its plan to run the venue.
Mike Shull, general manager of the department, told the City Council that he remains “steadfast” in the plan to have the city manage the venue.
If the city keeps Nederlander, which lost a competitive bid, and then restarts the competitive bidding process in a year or two, the same fight over what vendor should run the venue would occur, Shull said.
The City Council accepted Shull’s report for filing, but took no other action.
Koretz said this will likely be the end of the debate for some time, as he “sensed” there was not a “taste” among his colleagues for asserting jurisdiction over the Recreation and Parks Department’s decision.
He had initially wanted to ask his council colleagues to override the Recreation and Parks Commission’s vote from earlier this month to operate the Greek Theatre as an open venue.
Koretz said he would have supported either extending Nederlander’s contract for a year, or having Live Nation and Nederlander formally compete for interim control of the venue over the next one or two years.
“I can’t imagine that we will run this system as well as either Live Nation or Nederlander/AEG would have done,” Koretz told City News Service following the council meeting. “They are superstars in their industry, whereas I think we should focus on the things we do well and pick someone to focus on what they do well.”
Representatives of neighborhood councils and local community groups joined Koretz in saying that they do not feel the city is qualified to run the Greek Theatre.
Jay Handal, co-chair of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, said “the department does not have the expertise, nor does it have the personnel to operate the venue, nor has it truly and transparently costed out every aspect of them operating the venue.”
Facing pressure from Nederlander Concerts and community groups, the City Council previously had said it would not support awarding the venue’s management contract to Live Nation, which won a competitive bid conducted by the Recreation and Parks Department.
The council’s rejection of Live Nation appeared to give the victory to Nederlander, but instead of extending Nederlander’s contract, which ends in October, Recreation and Parks staff proposed that the city handle the Greek Theatre’s management itself.
The Recreation and Parks Commission that oversees the department agreed with the plan, in which the city will decide in 2016 whether it wants to again seek out an outside company to handle management of the venue, starting in 2018.
Recreation and Parks officials said the “open venue” model could be an opportunity for the city to gain a bigger cut of revenues from the summer concerts held at the Greek Theatre.
Officials estimate the city could net $3 million if 50 concerts are held, or $4.8 million for 70 concerts. Under its revenue-sharing agreement with Nederlander, the city received $1.97 million of $27.2 million in gross receipts in 2014.
Recreation and Parks officials have said the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver is an example of a successfully run, city-owned and -operated venue that Los Angeles could follow.
Nederlander Concerts had offered more money if city officials extended its contract, with CEO Alex Hodges saying last week that the company’s contract could be extended and amended to have “an increased annual minimum rent guarantee to the city of $3.5 million for 2016, with zero expense or risk to the city.”
—City News Service
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