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L.A. Parks Officials Oppose Concerts Near Burbank

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department officials have recommended that the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park not be allowed to host a proposed series of summer concerts by name entertainers in conjunction with professional polo matches.

Jim Heyne, an official with the parks department, said the concerts would produce noise and traffic problems for Burbank residents.

Heyne also said that the facility never was intended as a concert venue and that the planned summer concerts might compete with the Greek Theatre, also in Griffith Park. Both the Equestrian Center and the Greek Theatre are owned by the City of Los Angeles.

Even though the Equestrian Center has featured musical entertainment “in conjunction with other special events as accessory to the main equestrian attractions, this schedule consists of headliner entertainment,” Heyne said. “Therefore, the concerts become the primary event and the equestrian activity is incidental to that event, rather than vice versa.”

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The concerts have been scheduled as part of an evening-long program that would include a barbecue, a professional polo match and an after-game party lasting until 2 a.m. Scheduled to perform during the summer are the rock group Three Dog Night, soul singer James Brown and country singer Ronnie Milsap.

Opposition to the concert series, which is scheduled to start June 29, has been spearheaded by Burbank residents living near the center, who contend that it would create too much noise.

Residents also have claimed that, even though the facility is on the Los Angeles side of the Burbank-Los Angeles border, concertgoers would have to drive through their neighborhoods to reach the center at Riverside Drive and Main Street.

Burbank city officials complained that, because their residents will be affected, the city should have been consulted before Equestrian Center officials announced the concert series.

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The recommendation to block the concerts will be presented Friday to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Despite the setback, J. Albert Garcia, president of the privately owned Equestrian Centers of America, which operates the center, said he is confident that the commission will allow him to stage the concerts “once all the facts are in.”

Garcia also charged the City of Burbank and the coalition of residents with harassment.

“This has caused us a whole lot of harm in terms of the contractual arrangements we have made with the promoter and the artists,” Garcia said. “These concerts are consistent with everything we’ve ever done, and there will be no change in the noise levels. When everyone has the facts, I’m sure we will be given a permit to continue.”

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The concerts are being organized by Eddie Haddad, an independent concert promoter who was approached by center officials last January, Garcia said. Haddad’s contractual arrangement with the center allows him to receive 15% of “special revenues,” such as food and beverages, as well as a third of the net profits from the concerts after the center deducts rental and operating fees.

The costs already generated in putting together the concerts, including sound, lights, staging, and guarantees and monetary advances to the artists, have gone into “six figures,” Garcia said.

Haddad said he has forwarded as much as 50% of a performance fee to book some of the artists. “But more important is my reputation,” he said. “What the City of Burbank does not understand is that these are not rock concerts, but family concerts affiliated with horse events.”

The concerts are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and the polo matches are scheduled to begin at 8:30. “If the commissioners stop a 7 p.m. show before a polo game, they better stop the Mexican rodeos that the center has held on a regular basis,” Haddad said.

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“I just hope they give us a chance to show them that there is nothing to be concerned about,” he said.


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