Greek Out to Bid Again

New 10-year management contract will take effect Nov. 1, 2018

  • by Linda Deckard
  • Published: December 6, 2017

The historic Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Department is sold on the open venue concept and, to that end, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to operate the Greek Theatre from Nov. 1 2018-Nov. 1, 2028 to venue management companies only.

Just three short years ago, SMG won the bid in a hotly contested and highly public and political process, to operate the iconic, 5,801-seat amphitheater located in Griffith Park for one year with two one-year options, which end next November. The next contract will have some differences, including a 10-year term with a five-year option.

But it will continue to be an open venue concept and requires that the successful bidder is not allowed to promote concerts or events “consistent with an open venue model and therefore, any concert promoter, a subsidiary of a concert promoter or a joint venture with a concert promoter will be prohibited from submitting a response to this RFP.”

Prior to SMG's reign, Nederlander Concerts had the exclusive to operate and promote at The Greek for decades. Live Nation challenged that deal upon renewal before the city opted out of exclusive promoters and went with a management agreement.

A.P. Diaz, L.A. Recreation and Parks, said approximately 20 people attended the mandatory pre-proposal conference Nov. 30. Diaz did not have the complete list, but did recall representatives from SMG, AEG, Live Nation, Goldenvoice, Nederlander, Premier and Oak View Group were among them.

Bids are due Jan. 4, 2018. It is a very long and legal RFP, which Diaz said has been streamlined from what the city used to publish and which some of those planning to bid say will require a host of lawyers to help dot all the i’s.

The full RFP can be found by clicking here

Besides operating and booking the Greek for a fee, selling premium and seating programs for an incentive, maintaining an open box office (currently inhabited by Ticketmaster and AXS) and handling venue concessions (fee based), the new RFP also includes a fee to operate the nearby Roosevelt Café, which is open 365 days a year to service golfers and park guests. Premier, a division of SMG, currently operates concessions at the Greek.

This round, the city is also including an open-ended request for the successful operator to make some capital improvements. SMG invested in some food and beverage enhancements last round, but capital expenditures were not part of the bid, Diaz said.

The successful bidder must be prepared to begin the transition Oct. 1, 2018, to prepare for the 2019 season, which runs mid-April-Oct. 31 and includes approximately 70 concerts.

The dedicated core management staff for The Greek must be comprised of a Venue Manager, Roosevelt Café Manager, Booking/Box Office Manager, Operations Manager and necessary restaurant and administrative support staff. It is expected that during off-season months (November-March), the venue may be rented for special events, i.e. corporate, community and other events, the RFP says..

“There will be no exclusive rights to a ticketing vendor.”

Minimum qualifications to bid include, but are not limited to, “a minimum qualifying experience of providing venue management services for a minimum of twenty-five (25) different concert/theatre venues with a minimum seating capacity of four-thousand (4,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of twenty (20) years. Proposer must also have a minimum qualifying experience of providing food and beverage services for a minimum of ten (10) different concert/theater venues with a minimum seating capacity of five-thousand (5,000) per venue and have been in business for a minimum of fifteen (15) years. A qualifying venue could be a theater, stadium or amphitheater. If this is a new company, partnership, or joint venture formed for the operation of this concession, describe the background and qualifications of each of the partners or principals.”

Becky Colwell, GM at the Greek for SMG, said the city has been a great partner and is pleased with the financial results to date. Diaz had said the same, saying the Greek management style is predicated on what Denver does at Red Rocks amphitheater.

She shared financials from 2016 (2017 is not due until next week). The Greek hosted 80 events, April-October, with a total attendance of 318,618.

Food and drink at just the Greek grossed $4,931,000, with a per cap of $15.57 (up from a projected $3,832,335 and $12), with a return to the city of  $2,071,000.

Premium seat sales totaled $830,000, of which the RAP received $623,000; and sponsorships, $958,000 ($737,000 to the city).

Other gross receipts included: Ticket Sales, $18,449,000; Facility Fee, $1,564,000; Parking, $2,057,000; and Rent & Service, $5,708,000.

According to the RFP, the minimum annual guarantee (MAG) for the food and beverage concession at the Greek for year one is $2 million. The MAG for subsequent years is the greater of the previous year’s MAG or 90 percent of the actual concession fee paid to Recreation & Parks (RAP) for the previous contract year.

The MAG percentage of gross receipts payable to RAP is forty percent (40%) for all food and beverage sold annually. The Minimum Acceptable MAG for the food and beverage concession at the Roosevelt Cafe for year one is $25,000 or six percent.

According to the RFP, bids will be weighed as follows: 20% — Operational And Management Plan; 25% — Sponsorship And Premium Seating Sales Plan; 15%— Capital Improvement Plan; 20% — Food And Beverage Concession Plan; and 20% —Total Evaluation.

According to Diaz, once bids are submitted it will take through March to evaluate them and into April to decide. 

  • by Linda Deckard
  • Published: December 6, 2017