The ownership group of Inglewood's Forum filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Anschutz Entertainment Group for failing to book enough acts at the arena and diverting potential business to the AEG-owned Staples Center across town.


Forum Enterprises Inc, a for-profit arm of the Faithful Central Bible Church, owns the Inglewood arena that was once the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings. Forum Enterprises terminated its 6-year-old booking agreement with AEG on Tuesday.


The suit, filed in U.S. Circuit Court, claims violations of antitrust law, breach of contract and unfair business practices, and seeks $5 million for lost revenue from potential bookings. It also alleges that AEG violated a contractual agreement to be the exclusive booking agent for the Forum by, among other things, diverting events to the Staples Center, which AEG developed and owns.


The lack of bookings has kept the arena from covering its operational costs and turning a profit, said Johnny Darnell Griggs said, an attorney representing Forum Enterprises.


The suit states in part that "AEG has paid $500,000 per year to put the Forum out of business as an entertainment venue." The Faithful Central Bible Church, which has more than 8,000 members in the area one of the state's largest congregations uses the famed 18,000-seat arena for Sunday church services.


Forum Enterprises bought the arena from AEG in 2000 for $22.5 million. The just-terminated booking arrangement was negotiated at the time of the sale, and was amended in 2003 because, according to Forum Enterprises attorneys, the arena wasn't seeking enough booking activity at the time. Under the arrangement, the Forum received 100 percent the booking revenue up to $500,000, after which point AEG began to share in revenues at a rate of 30 percent for the first 15 events, increasing d to 40 percent for 16 or more bookings.


A strongly-worded AEG statement issued late Wednesday dismissed the suit as "meritless" and alleged Forum Enterprises of its own contract breeches.
"We intend to pursue claims against FEI for their breeches of the booking agreement which has been in place since they acquired the Forum from AEG nearly six years ago," wrote Michael Roth, AEG's vice president of communications.


In January, Forum Enterprises expressed interest in redeveloping at least part of 29-acre the site, and asked some of the region's largest developers to come up with proposals for such a venture. There also was talk of possibly tearing down the historic arena, known in its heyday as the Fabulous Forum, and replacing it with housing and a shopping center.

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