L.A. city parks commission tosses out proposals to run Greek Theatre

L.A. city parks commission tosses out proposals to run Greek Theatre
The Greek Theatre in Griffith Park. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles city commission decided Wednesday to toss out two competing proposals to run the Greek Theatre, the latest step in a lengthy battle between entertainment titans over who will operate the Griffith Park venue.

The Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners recommended last year that Live Nation take over the Greek, after an evaluation panel arranged by an outside consultant unanimously rated its proposal above a competing bid.


Doing so would pull the Greek away from the Nederlander Organization, which has operated the venue for decades and bid to continue doing so alongside a new partner, AEG.

But after the City Council voted against the parks commission recommendation, touting strong community support for Nederlander-AEG, the parks department decided to go back to the drawing board.

City officials say the parks commission could opt to redo the selection process after getting more comment from the community. However, department head Mike Shull said there is little time to do so before the Greek must start booking acts for next year. The Nederlander contract to run the Greek expires at the end of October.

Shull has suggested another option: Running the Greek at least temporarily as an "open venue."

The system, recently floated as an alternative in a city report, would allow the city to control the concert calendar, something it hasn't borne responsibility for up to now. Live Nation, Nederlander and other promoters could book acts and would still bear the risk and expense of doing so, but no single promoter would exclusively run the venue, the report said.

Doing so could mean more risk and reward for the city: It would take on responsibility for theater maintenance, for example, but it could also stand to reap more revenue, according to the report.

Shull told the parks commission Wednesday that the city should consider the idea, at least in the short term. "This by no means rules out a new (process to solicit proposals) but does buy us time and ensures the continuation of the revenue stream the department so desperately needs," Shull said.

In roughly a month, Shull and other parks department staffers plan to return with a report on how running an open venue would work. The parks commission would then decide whether to pursue the idea, though Shull later said there were few alternatives available to the city at this point.

"It would be a dereliction of our duty if we did not look at being able to self-operate," Commissioner Lynn Alvarez said at the Wednesday meeting.

So far, the companies' reaction to the idea has been muted: Live Nation, which had threatened to sue after city lawmakers bucked the recommendation to choose the company, told the parks commission it would promote and produce 50 concerts a year and guarantee $5 million to the parks department annually if it chooses to run the Greek itself.

Nederlander-AEG representatives attended the Wednesday meeting but did not speak before the commission. In a recent statement, Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges said the companies still believe they are the best operators but "look forward to cooperatively working with the city as it considers the next options available for the venue."

Follow @latimesemily for what's happening at Los Angeles City Hall