Live Nation sale won't affect Gleason, officials say
By Eric Kalis
Concert promoter Live Nation's planned sale of its theater division will not affect its operations at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, the terms of which are being negotiated with the city, company officials say.
Officials of the Los Angeles company, the largest concert promoter in the country, announced last month that they will sell Live Nation's North American theater operations to focus on music. The decision will not affect negotiations with Miami Beach officials for a 15-year lease for the 2,700-seat, city-owned Gleason, John Vlautin, the company's vice president of communications, said last week.
City commissioners approved the lease in October after Montreal troupe Cirque du Soleil withdrew from consideration.
"The theatrical division was only a small part of our business," Mr. Vlautin said. "Live music is our core business. We are excited to get into the Gleason and are open to every type of music for that venue."
Live Nation and Miami Beach officials have been negotiating for about seven months, assistant city manager Tim Hemstreet said Monday. They are close to an agreement, he said, but language issues must be resolved.
City officials are to brief the city's Finance and City-Wide Projects Committee today (4/19) and hope to have a deal ready for City Commission approval by mid-May, Mr. Hemstreet said. Three commissioners sit on the finance committee, which is chaired by Commissioner Saul Gross, he said.
City officials had hoped to wrap up negotiations by the end of last year.
"We are hopefully close to having a final draft," Mr. Hemstreet said. "We will prepare backup material for the [committee] meeting. If the committee accepts the deal points, we will go ahead and present it to the full commission for the May meeting," which has not been scheduled.
A lease would require a majority vote of the City Commission and certain deal points may require two hearings, Mr. Hemstreet said. For example, commissioners would be required to twice approve Live Nation's plan to change the theater's name to Fillmore Miami Beach at the Incredible Jackie Gleason Theater, he said.
Live Nation officials have not booked acts for the venue, Mr. Vlautin said. The company is pursuing performers from all music genres, he said. "We book a wide variety of artists into venues that size," Mr. Vlautin said.
Live Nation owns, operates or has booking rights for more than 150 venues worldwide.
In their original proposal, company executives offered the city $1 million annually for 15 years with modest annual increases. The offer, which included a promise to cover maintenance costs, helped Live Nation win a contract over AEG Live, its rival in the concert industry, city commissioners say. Unlike AEG Live, Live Nation did not ask for a termination clause, another important part of the commission's October decision.