Promoters Battle For The Control Over The Greek Theatre

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The city's Recreation and Parks Commission voted in October to contract with Live Nation instead of sticking with Nederlander, but members of the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health, Aging and River Committee voted last month to reject that decision.

The full City Council intends to decide today whether to adopt the commission's original recommendation of Live Nation or side with the council committee and send the matter back to the Parks Commission -- likely with instructions on what the panel and department officials should do next.

Ahead of today's meeting, City Attorney Mike Feuer cautioned council members that they lack the power to immediately overturn the selection of an operator for the Greek.

In a confidential letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Feuer advised the City Council that it could reject a contract with an operator after it is negotiated and approved by the city Parks Commission. But today's vote on the commission's recommended selection of Live Nation will only be advisory, he wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Monday.

"Whatever action the council decides to take, it will be viewed as a non-binding recommendation and (the Parks Department) will retain the right to award the contract to its preferred proposer, he said.

He also argued that taking action to "overturn" the commission's choice of Live Nation would probably be seen as a violation of city contracting rules and prompt a lawsuit against the city.

Backers of each bidder -- dressed in their respective colors of red for Live Nation and green for Nederlander -- have packed meetings on the issue in recent months and are expected to turn up again for today's City Council vote.

Many residents near the Greek Theatre have come out in favor of Nederlander, which has been the operator for nearly 40 years, saying they are concerned Live Nation would not be as sensitive about concert noise and traffic congestion affecting the surrounding neighborhood.

Nederlander, which recently teamed up with Anschutz Entertainment Group to bid on the new agreement, has also argued that its package promises $17.5 million more in rent revenue -- the only dollars guaranteed to go into the city's coffers.

But Live Nation officials say their proposal scored higher than Nederlander and offered more money for improvements to the facility, including $25 million in the first year of the contract, while Nederlander proposed spending $18 million in the first two years on upgrades to the facility Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Mike Shull argued at last month's committee meeting that the department designed the bidding process to "encourage innovation" and to "look forward beyond what the Greek is currently today."

While Nederlander guaranteed more in rent, Shull said, the upgrades to the venue are important because "investing in our facilities is something we don't do very well in the city."

The support of Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the Greek Theatre, gave Nederlander's proposal a boost last month, with many of his colleagues deferring to him on the issue.

"It's not about money, it's about community," LaBonge said, referring to what he feels is Nederlander's success in working out noise and traffic issues with the neighboring community.

Councilman Joe Buscaino cast the lone dissenting vote at the time, saying Live Nation won by a "wide margin" and that meddling with the process will give the impression that "L.A. is business unfriendly."

Live Nation's venues in Los Angeles include the Wiltern and the Hollywood Palladium. The company also ran the recent Made in America Festival at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

Nederlander operates the Pantages Theatre and the City National Grove of Anaheim.

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