ETM hits a homer

The Los Angeles Dodgers ended a 14-year relationship with Ticketmaster Group Inc. last week to sign a ticket distribution deal with a small, Costa Mesa company.

ETM Entertainment Network Inc. is embarking on an ambitious strategy to place electronic ticket-sale kiosks in major Southern California supermarkets, with plans for 100 such outlets by the end of the year. Currently, it has only seven kiosks in place.

ETM gained notoriety two years ago when it tried to handle ticket sales for a national tour by rock group Pearl Jam, which was involved in a dispute against Ticketmaster over high service charges. The tour later collapsed.

The deal is considered a major coup for ETM because it will be able to use the Dodgers to market its service, although the loss of the team probably won’t put much of a dent in the Ticketmaster empire. The service sells only about 100,000 Dodgers tickets per season, a relatively small number compared with other baseball teams Ticketmaster handles.

Arco gets Thrifty

Atlantic Richfield Co. announced a deal last week that will make it the biggest gasoline retailer in California.

The company has signed long-term leases for all 260 Thrifty gas stations, most of which are located in Southern California. Arco signs will soon replace the Thrifty name, boosting Arco’s California station total to 1,266.

Although that’s considerably less than Chevron’s 1,407 California stations and Shell’s 1,400, the average volume of gasoline pumped by Arco stations is higher than both chains.

That position may not last. Shell and Texaco announced last fall that they would combine all refining and retail operations; that deal hasn’t been completed, but if it is, the combined group’s presence in California will be bigger than Arco’s.

Downey-based Thrifty is currently trying to sell its refinery in Santa Fe Springs, which was closed in 1992. It will continue to operate only as an owner of real estate.

Insurance rates cut

Good drivers in Los Angeles insured by the State Farm Group could see their auto insurance rates drop by as much as 17 percent, state officials announced last week.

Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm is California’s largest auto insurer and one of the first companies whose new rates have been announced. All auto insurers operating in the state were required to file new rates last month with the California Department of Insurance to comply with 1988’s Proposition 103.

That initiative called for insurers to base rates primarily on a driver’s record, rather than his or her place of residence. The new rates are likely to benefit good drivers living in urban areas, while poor drivers and people living in rural areas may end up paying more.

Under State Farm’s new rates, L.A. County drivers will see their insurance policy costs cut by an average of 8.4 percent, state officials said. Meanwhile, good drivers living in L.A.’s inner city might pay up to 17 percent less.

Court awards land to airport

A Superior Court judge issued an order last week granting the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority possession of 130 acres of land adjacent to the Burbank Airport to be used for a proposed new airport terminal.

The 130 acres are currently owned by Lockheed Martin Corp., but will become the airport’s possession in 90 days when the court order takes effect. The land will eventually be purchased by the Airport Authority, but a price has not yet been agreed upon.

The court decision marks the end of brief battle between the Airport Authority and Lockheed over control of the land. The Airport Authority wanted to purchase the property from Lockheed last year but could not arrive at a price agreeable to both parties.

The Airport Authority then commenced an action to take the property through its power of eminent domain, which was opposed in the courts by Lockheed.

The Airport Authority deposited $39 million with the court in February as the probable amount that would be paid for the land. The money will be held until a final price is determined.

Grocer charged

The owner of one of L.A.’s most successful Asian supermarkets has been charged with underreporting more than $4 million in sales taxes.

Richard Rhee, founder of the California Market chain, has been charged with nine counts of felony tax evasion and one count of grand theft. That comes on top of previously filed criminal charges of failing to pay unemployment insurance taxes.

Rhee has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Rhee began the California Market chain in 1986 after buying his first store in Koreatown. It now has six outlets in L.A. County, although one store in the San Fernando Valley is no longer operating.

Prosecutors say they expect to consolidate the two criminal cases against Rhee, which together could result in a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

Compiled by Dan Turner

No posts to display