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Revived Forum’s dominance of L.A. concert business likely to continue with Kanye West, Louis C.K. and other superstar shows

The exterior of The Forum in Inglewood
The exterior of The Forum in Inglewood
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

It’s only been two years since the Forum was resurrected in Inglewood, but the famed music venue has quickly grabbed a sizable chunk of the Los Angeles-area concert business. 

The revived 17,500-seat oval-shaped hall boasted 20 concerts in the L.A. area during the first half of 2016, accounting for 36% of arena concerts here, the Forum said Wednesday.  

That’s down slightly from its 39% share during the same period a year ago but still twice that of its nearest competitor, AEG’s Staples Center, according to figures compiled by Forum owner Madison Square Garden Co. 

To be sure, the 20,000-capacity Staples Center and other venues rely on team sporting events like NBA games to fill their calendars, whereas the Forum puts on only concerts and other one-time events like TV awards shows. Staples’ robust sports business means it has less time to schedule live music. It also reserves 10 days in February in order to host the Grammys.  

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MSG did not provide data on the Forum’s ticket sales or gross revenue. 

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Nonetheless, the Forum says it has proved its ability to attract top touring acts since MSG reopened it in 2014 after it sat underutilized for years. Competing for star power is a key element of MSG’s bid to take on Staples Center. 

“We’re overwhelmed with the success,” said veteran music manager Irving Azoff, who worked closely with New York-based MSG on its $100-million renovation of the Forum. “We’re really excited about how it’s been sought after for everything.” 

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The concert giant bought the Forum in 2012 from Faithful Central Bible Church. It reopened in January 2014 with the Eagles as its first act. So far this year, it has held concerts by Rihanna, Black Sabbath and David Gilmour. 

The company is trying to keep the momentum going during the rest of the year with a series of multi-night engagements, having booked rapper Kanye West for four shows in the fall and comedian Louis C.K. for two concerts this summer. 

For its part, Staples Center’s formidable schedule includes six sold-out Adele concerts and three sold-out Drake shows, plus gigs with Barbra Streisand and Selena Gomez. 

Lee Zeidman, president of L.A. Live, Staples Center and the Microsoft Theater, said that the Forum’s comparisons were apples-to-oranges because so many dates are reserved for events like NHL and NBA games and potential playoffs. “It isn’t surprising given that 156 of 182 available dates from January to June are filled… that The Forum has booked a few more concerts,” Zeidman said.

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MSG is hoping to repeat the success of the Forum with a planned 17,500-seat venue in Las Vegas just off the Strip. That facility would compete with the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena and the 16,800-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena. 

Azoff said he expects the Forum to gain more ground in the coming years, benefiting from the development of a football stadium in Inglewood for the NFL’s Rams franchise and the impending closure of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.

The market share percentages provided by MSG include venues with 13,000 seats or more. At full capacity, the Forum seats 17,500 people, but also converts to a 7,000-seat half bowl for smaller shows.

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MSG calculated the market share percentages based on 56 arena concerts at the top seven area venues including Hollywood Bowl, Irvine Meadows and the Honda Center in Anaheim.   

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