In the latest twist in the saga of who will get to operate the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, a city commission on Wednesday voted to not extend its contract with operator Nederlander Concerts and to instead turn over operation of the venue to the city.
The Recreation and Parks Commission’s 3-1 vote comes a month after the same commission voted to toss out competing proposals: one from Los Angeles concert promoters Nederlander and AEG, and the other from Beverly Hills-based LiveNation.
Current operator Nederlander has operated the iconic Griffith Park venue for 40 years; its current contract expires in October. Last year, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to award the contract to LiveNation after an independent panel recommended that action. But Nederlander appealed the decision to the City Council, raising objections about the panel’s review process. Nederlander also had considerable support from nearby residents who said they were concerned about impacts of bigger concerts that might take place under the LiveNation’s operation.
After a fierce lobbying battle, the Council voted last fall to reject the LiveNation bid and sent the whole matter back to the Recreation and Parks Commission.
In March, city staff issued a report backing a third alternative, that the city operate the amphitheater as an “open venue,” similar to the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. Various concert promoters would book events on a first-come-first-served basis and would be responsible for paying performers, producing the shows and collecting ticket revenues; the city would assume direct control over concessions and other revenue sources and would control the events calendar.
That’s the proposal the Recreation and Parks Commission voted on Wednesday. The vote also calls for the commission to re-examine the operating contract late next year. Nederlander or LiveNation could appeal that decision and ask the City Council to weigh in.
Nederlander Concerts issued a statement critical of Wednesday’s vote and urging it to reconsider.
“We urge the Department to reconsider today’s action and instead amend and extend Nederlander’s existing Greek Theatre operating agreement,” Alex Hodges, chief executive of Nederlander Concerts said in a statement. “This is the most fiscally responsible and seamless option for the city, backed by an operator with expertise in concert booking, management, promotion and community relations.”
But in a letter to the commission, Bret Gallagher, LiveNation’s president for Southern California and Las Vegas, said his company supports the commission’s decision.
“We urge the board to reject the opposition from the incumbent operator and instead proceed to adopt the open venue plan as the most legally defensible and appropriate option for the 2016 season, protecting the integrity of the public contracting process,” Gallagher wrote.