Los Angeles Recreation and Parks officials are recommending that SMG, a Pennsylvania-based event management company, be given a city contract to manage the Greek Theatre as an open venue, the department’s general manager said Monday.
Recreation and Parks officials earlier this year had planned to award Live Nation an exclusive contract to manage and promote concerts at the outdoor Griffith Park performance venue. But that plan was derailed after Nederlander, the long-standing venue operator, mounted a campaign to override the decision, rallying support from nearby residents and City Council members.
Recreation and Parks officials eventually opted against siding with either firm, deciding instead to have the city self-operate the venue with the help of a management consultant.
Bids were then solicited for a new management firm, ultimately attracting proposals from SMG and Spectra.
SMG’s proposal was ranked higher because it was more detailed, though “both proposals were good,” Recreation and Parks General Manager Mike Shull told the City Council’s Arts, Parks and River Committee Monday.
The Recreation and Parks Commission at its Sept. 2 meeting will take up the staff’s recommendation to award the open venue management contract to SMG, which calls for a one-year term with two opportunities to extend the term another year, Shull said.
Under this “open venue” approach, the city would be able to keep more of the revenue generated by the theater, Shull said.
Under the old management model, Live Nation or Nederlander would have taken a cut of ticket, food and beverage sales revenue, he said.
Shull’s report was given at the request of City Councilman David Ryu who cited worries by some residents about whether existing protections against noise, safety and traffic congestion — implemented under Nederlander’s management — would be preserved under the new open venue plan.
Several residents expressed doubt that a new firm would be able to run the venue as well as Nederlander, which will see its contract expire in the fall, after 40 years of managing the Greek Theatre.
Shull said city officials plan to keep the existing subcontractors that handle parking and sound equipment, though they may use a different security company, Shull said.
Repeated violations of noise restrictions would result in fines of between $5,000 to $10,000, he said.
Ryu questioned Shull at length, eventually concluding that “if everything happens to plan, it sounds very promising.”
“I still have reservations,” he said, adding that he will continue to monitor how well the new management firm manages noise, traffic, responsiveness to public complaints and other issues.
Neither Nederland nor Live Nation were considered for managing the Greek Theatre as an open venue, as both firms are expected to promote concerts at the outdoor arena. Both firms had put holds on dates for the 2016 season earlier this year, Shull said.
Under the new self-operating structure, the chosen management firm will not be allowed to promote concerts at the Greek Theatre, according to Shull.
The issue was kept in the Arts, Parks and Rivers Committee to allow for future discussion on the matter.
— City News Service
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