Politics

Live Nation clears first hurdle to win Greek Theatre contract

The Recreation and Parks Commission voted Thursday to hand over operation of the Greek Theatre to Live Nation.
The Recreation and Parks Commission voted Thursday to hand over operation of the Greek Theatre to Live Nation.
Photo by BeverlyHillsPorsches via Flickr Creative Commons

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Los Angeles's Recreation and Parks Commission on Thursday recommended Live Nation win a 20-year contract to operate the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, deciding its promises to update the venue were a better deal for the city than what was offered by its historic operator, Nederlander/AEG Live. 

The vote came after nearly three hours of public testimony. Residents have favored Nederlander, which has operated the venue for nearly 40 years. But a consultant firm hired by the city to evaluate the proposals gave Live Nation's bid a higher score. 

"There's been a lot of problems for a long time with having a concert venue that size in the middle of a residential neighborhood - and I've got to say that I can't imagine anyone doing a better job or trying harder than Nederlander has," Los Feliz resident Steve Kimmel told the commission. 

Thursday's vote doesn't seal the deal. The proposal next goes to the city's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee, then the full City Council for consideration.

"I will thoroughly review this recommendation," said Councilman Tom LaBonge, who sits on that committee and whose district includes the theater. "An assessment will be made for what’s best for the city."

Aside from city golf courses, the Greek Theatre produces more revenue than any other Recreation and Parks property. In 2013, it grossed $22.8 million, of which $1.6 million went to city coffers. Nederlander's contract with the Greek Theatre expires on Oct. 31, 2015.

Live Nation and Nederlander fought hard over the lucrative new 10-year contract, which could be renewed for an additional 10 years. Live Nation has spent $70,000 since January to lobby officials at City Hall, according to the city Ethics Commission; Nederlander spent $187,500.

Nederlander argued that, at $77 million, its bid would provide about $17 million more in revenue to the city the Live Nation deal would. However, Live Nation promised to set aside $40 million to upgrade the 5,900-seat theater and that was ultimately more appealing.