Neighbors of the Pacific Amphitheatre have sued Nederlander, complaining of excessive noise, an ongoing problem that is one reason behind Nederlander's bid. But "it's not the primary reason," Papiano said.
"Some events are better suited to Irvine than the Pacific, and some are better suited to the Pacific than Irvine," he said.
Like Avalon Attractions' arrangement with Irvine Meadows, Nederlander has had an exclusive right to promote concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre. Nederlander books and operates the Pacific on a 40-year lease with the state-owned Orange County Fair, on whose property the amphitheater was built.
As to whether other promoters would enjoy the same access to the Pacific as Nederlander is hoping to gain at Irvine Meadows, Papiano said, "Yes, that is a possibility."
If that is true, for the first time Orange County could become an open field for concert promoters.
San Diego rock promoter Bill Silva said he would "absolutely" be interested in booking shows at the Orange County amphitheaters. "There would be a few instances a year where, if the venues were open to us, we'd love to book them. . . . That's why we are watching with great interest what happens in Orange County."
But one Southland concert industry source, who requested anonymity, considers equal access unlikely, saying that Nederlander could control parking, food concessions, merchandise booths and other income-generating activities at both facilities, giving the company substantial economic advantages over competitors. Non-ticket income can represent up to 50% of the total take for an evening, and a single concert can generate "easily $500,000," the source said.
On the other hand, Silva said, Nederlander could act as a landlord while other promoters assume the risk and responsibility for selling tickets. "It's a tremendous situation for them--sitting back and taking your rewards regardless of what happens at the gate."
Officials at both amphitheaters have long complained that intense competition has driven their talent costs up astronomically over the prevailing rate for concert attractions.
Up-front guarantees to performers "would have to be five or six times what it is in other markets . . . because of the bidding wars," Silva said. Top acts can command guaranteed fees of more than $200,000 a night.
"We have lost some big money," Nederlander chairman James M. Nederlander told The Times in April, 1989. "We are not discouraged with it. We are not making money . . . but we expect to."
Said Irvine Meadows' Geddes in an interview last year: "I would say the (amphitheater) would not be deemed a financial success. An investment of this size would typically generate a more lucrative return than Irvine Meadows does."
Times staff writer Dan Weikel and free-lance writer Jim Washburn contributed to this report.