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O.C. POP BEAT / MIKE BOEHM

Nederlander Makes Inside Move, to Anaheim Arena

January 27, 1994|MIKE BOEHM

ANAHEIM — After 11 often troublesome and seldom profitable years of promoting pop concerts under the stars at the Pacific Amphitheatre, the Nederlander Organization will try its luck indoors as the newly appointed exclusive concert promoter at the Anaheim Arena.

Nederlander and Ogden Entertainment Services, the arena's co-owner and operator, announced the agreement but would not divulge the terms of the contract that they hope will bring 25 pop shows to the arena in 1994.

No new shows have been announced yet. A Luther Vandross concert at the arena Jan. 13 was the first staged under the exclusivity agreement; a Feb. 5 rock show by Rush and Candlebox was booked before the Nederlander contract took effect and is being promoted by Nederlander's rival, Avalon Attractions.

Susan Rosenbluth, a Nederlander executive, said the exclusivity contract is a multiple-year agreement and calls for Nederlander to pay an undisclosed minimum guaranteed rent to the arena regardless of the number of shows staged. Also, Nederlander will pay all costs for ushers, stagehands, security staff and other concert-related personnel.

Until now, the arena, which opened last June with a concert by Barry Manilow, had been open to any promoter who wanted to rent the facility for a show. Now, outside promoters who want to bring acts into the arena will have to get Nederlander's approval and probably include Nederlander as a co-promoter.

The advantage of having an exclusive promoter, Rosenbluth said, is that "the building then has an advocate who goes out and tries really hard to bring business to the building. It's almost like Ogden having a new division that knows a lot about concerts and can take risks independently to bring a lot of concerts into the venue."

The agreement gives a renewed foothold in the potentially lucrative Orange County concert market to Nederlander, a major, nationwide theatrical company.

Nederlander sold its interest in the open-air Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa last year after absorbing losses that one of its principals termed "horrendous." Nederlander also incurred neighbors' wrath--and a series of lawsuits--over concert noise at the Pacific.

Brad Mayne, the Anaheim Arena's general manager, said Tuesday that having Nederlander as in-house promoter figures to improve the new building's prospects as a concert venue after a slow start.

One advantage, he said, will be Nederlander's ability to make package booking deals in which acts that play at the Nederlander-operated Greek Theatre in Los Angeles will come to Anaheim as well.

"Having Nederlander on board will strengthen our concerts," Mayne said. "We had six concerts in our first six months, and now we hope to have 25 in the next 12."

Most major arenas do not have exclusive promoters, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Poll Star magazine, a widely read concert-industry publication.

Ogden, for instance, also operates the Forum in Inglewood, where any promoter can rent the building. The Forum already had longstanding relationships with various promoters before Ogden took over the building six years ago, Mayne said, and Ogden decided not to tinker with a system that worked.

The Anaheim Arena is expected to operate at a loss early on. Reaching the 25-concert goal could help reduce the amount of red ink in the short run, Mayne said. Only after the arena yields a profit will Ogden's partner in the building, the city of Anaheim, receive a share of the money from concerts or any other arena events.

The goal of 25 concerts per year is fairly modest by Orange County big-venue standards. From 1988 to 1992, the Pacific Amphitheatre averaged 37 shows a year and Irvine Meadows 39. In 1993, a variety of circumstances, including Nederlander's sale of the Pacific, resulted in a weak season (41 shows combined) that most observers believe was an anomaly.

Nederlander, through one of its principals, Neil Papiano, was involved in the planning of the Anaheim Arena well before construction began.

"At one point (Nederlander) was supposed to be partners in the arena, but along the way Ogden took over the whole private part of the project," Mayne said.

John Nicoletti, an arena spokesman, said that Nederlander was not named as exclusive promoter from the start because "it took some time . . . to agree to the exact specifics of the contracts. But ever since the arena was first conceived in November, 1990, it was known that Nederlander would be an integral part of the building."

Mayne said that Ogden also had "some preliminary discussions" with Nederlander's Southland concert rival, Avalon Attractions. The idea of having Nederlander, Avalon and Ogden join forces to promote shows at the arena was discussed, Mayne said, but it did not go far.

Now that it is established at the arena, Nederlander will resume its longstanding Orange County rivalry with Avalon, the Encino-based concert company that promotes shows at Irvine Meadows.

The Pacific Amphitheatre also could be a competitor: Its owner, the Orange County Fair, intends to seek a new operator to run concerts there, although in a scaled-down, 8,000- to 9,000-seat format designed to keep concert noise under control.

*

Times correspondent Terry Spencer contributed to this report.

* OUTDOOR COMPETITION: Will Nederlander have a harder time booking for summer? F13

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