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House of Blues to Sue Over Greek Theatre Bid

March 22, 2001|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

House of Blues Concerts plans to file a lawsuit claiming the city improperly tossed out its bid for the contract to book concerts at the city-owned Greek Theatre, sources said.

The lawsuit, to be announced today, alleges the city Recreation and Parks board violated city regulations by ignoring an analysis in which House of Blues scored higher than the other bidder--the theater's current operator, Nederlander Organization Inc. House of Blues is seeking to have a judge award it the contract and $10 million in damages.

Board members voted Feb. 21 to reject proposals by both bidders and to seek new offers. The parks board had twice deadlocked 2-2 after commissioner Steve Soboroff, who had accepted campaign contributions from proposed theater vendors, recused himself.

The company contends throwing out both bids would unfairly allow Nederlander to enhance its proposal and rebid. No other firms are expected to enter the fray because industry consolidation has cut the number of viable competitors.

House of Blues outscored Nederlander by offering the city higher rent and promising more renovation work. House of Blues proposed making $11.1 million in improvements, compared with Nederlander's $5.5 million. House of Blues officials also say the city illegally awarded a five-year extension of the Nederlander contract in 1999 without seeking competitive bids. That extension was rescinded by the City Council after a House of Blues-sponsored petition drive that would have placed the issue on last November's ballot.

Board members say they reopened the bidding process because there were questions about both proposals and their deadlock could not be broken.

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