Is it cynical to think we’re all being a set up a little? Do you get this nagging feeling….kind of, sort of, maybe questioning Mike Shull’s sincerity when he says his department is serious about running the Greek Theatre?

I interviewed Mike Shull after Wednesday’s meeting and it’s clear the guy is very intelligent. Intelligent enough to know that the LA City Council is likely to intervene after the Recreation and Parks commission voted 3-1 in favor of running the Greek as an “open venue.”

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Is he aiming for some kind of showdown with the council? When council members voted 11-3 against the Live Nation proposal, they sent a not-so-subtle message to Shull that they didn’t want Live Nation running the Greek. As part of their rejection, they asked Rec and Parks to meet with community leaders and issue a new RFP for concessions and operations of the iconic venue.

That didn’t happen. Instead, Shull came up with this self-operation plan (he prefers I call it the “open venue model”) and now he’s uber-confident the whole thing is going to work out . Knowing that he’s openly disregarding the council’s wishes, I can’t help but wonder if Shull is trying to set up some type of confrontation between the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, to which he reports.

And what if council members intervene? And they pass a resolution preventing Shull’s department from running the Greek as an open venue? Then what? Is Recreation and Parks looking for a permanent stalemate? Are they playing some weird game of chicken with the City Council?

I don’t know. What I can tell you is that we’re all being set up to keep fighting each other. If this goes to the City Council, there will be more letter writing, more public testimony, and more at-capacity public hearings.

But say, however unlikely, that the council doesn’t intervene. Say the Greek is actually operated as an open venue. The fighting will surely continue. Imagine the dozens of booking calendar arguments that will take place on a daily basis between AEG, Nederlander and Live Nation over venue holds and radius clauses. Live Nation has the advantage in the open marketplace — it has size, and it has volume. Imagine telling a guy like Brian O’Connell at Live Nation that you want your band to tour all the company’s amphitheaters on your next run, but when it comes to the LA market, your act is going to sell the show to Nederlander Concerts. Yeah. Good luck with that.

What about plans to issue a new RFP for exclusive management? If it happens, expect more fighting. An RFP process could easily take another three years to resolve. Three more years!

You know who benefits? The lawyers. And the lobbyists. And the extra PR teams. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against any of these people. In fact, everyone I’ve met so far through this long process has been pretty friendly. Extremely friendly, in fact. Maybe LA Rec and Parks should be congratulated. They’ve created an economic stimulus program for some very nice people.

Nice people, who under other circumstances probably wouldn’t be stuck fighting each other. But fight they must, and fight they will. We’re all going to keep fighting each other until one side runs out of fight. That could take a while. We won’t fight forever. Just til one of us runs out of gas.

Dave Brooks
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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
Dave Brooks
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