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Goldenvoice to book, operate and renovate Shrine Auditorium

The venue and Expo Hall will be booked and operated by Goldenvoice, with plans for a renovation. It's likely to see dance events, Coachella acts.

December 10, 2012|By Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times

More pop music will be coming to the Shrine Auditorium.

Goldenvoice, the concert promotion firm behind the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, will immediately assume control of all booking and operational aspects of the venue south of downtown L.A. and its adjacent Expo Hall, with plans underway for a multimillion-dollar renovation to take place throughout 2013.

The Shrine Auditorium will continue to be owned by Al Malaikah Auditorium Co., an offshoot of the national fraternal organization most commonly known as the Shriners.

It was once the go-to destination for Hollywood awards shows, a business that in recent years has migrated to more modern locales such as Hollywood's Dolby Theatre or one of the venues at downtown's L.A. Live.

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"The Shriners are a charitable-based fraternity, and operating within the entertainment industry wasn't the primary business," said Goldenvoice executive Rick Mueller, who orchestrated the deal. "Over time, the entertainment business passed them by because it wasn't what they lived day in and day out. This gives them an opportunity to bring an experienced operator to the room."

Mueller anticipates that Goldenvoice could add as many as 25 or 30 shows to the venue in 2013. Goldenvoice, a division of AEG Live, has in recent years promoted concerts by Arcade Fire and Jack White at the Shrine and in early November hosted the dance-focused Sonar on Tour event there.

The arrangement essentially adds two venues to Goldenvoice's roster. The 54,000-square-foot Expo Hall can hold about 5,000 people, and the auditorium has 6,300 seats. Expect, said Mueller, to see more dance events at the Expo Hall, and Goldenvoice will take the back-end reins on the 50 or so events already destined for the Shrine, including the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

"We are very excited to have Goldenvoice taking over operations at the Shrine," said John Everson, president of the Shrine's board of trustees. "Their expertise, artist relationships and passion for live events is just what we need to bring a new generation of music fans to our historic venue."

Mueller said the Shrine and Expo will be used to give Goldenvoice a larger venue to house artists who play its desert festival Coachella on their return trips to the L.A. area. Recently, some top-billed Coachella artists have gone with AEG Live's main competitor, Live Nation. The Shins, for instance, on Oct. 2 played a Live Nation-promoted show at the Gibson Amphitheatre, comparable in size to the Shrine.

The venue also adds to the Goldenvoice/AEG stable in and around downtown. Located across the street from USC, the Shrine is just two miles from AEG venue the Nokia Theatre, which has 7,100 seats.

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The Nokia Theatre has taken some of the Shrine's awards show business — the American Music Awards and now the BET Awards have left the Shrine for the more spacious and slicker L.A. Live venue. The Shrine was the longtime home for the Academy Awards until the Oscars jumped in 2002 to what is now the Dolby Theatre.

"The Nokia is a more modern facility for these TV award shows," said Mueller. "As those productions get bigger and more intricate, some of the physical capabilities of what the Shrine has to offer isn't enough."

Goldenvoice says it will invest heavily in modernizing the Shrine. Leaving soon will be the Shrine's musty lobby carpet, and Goldenvoice will gradually be adding more concession areas, upgrading the bathrooms, installing Wi-Fi and, Mueller promises, funding "some sound and light upgrades."

The auditorium opened in 1926 after two years of construction. The facility cost $2.6 million and replaced a smaller 14-year-old temple that burned in 1920. The auditorium, used as a movie backdrop in the original "King Kong" film, continues to host numerous community events such as naturalization ceremonies and school graduations.

Until the opening of the Music Center in 1964, the lavish, Moorish-inspired Shrine was the only major cultural venue in Los Angeles. In the 1930s it was a popular site for jitterbug contests, and it boasts a chandelier nearly three stories tall.

"It's a nice classic venue with a lot of heritage," said Mueller, adding "it has a great feel for rock 'n' roll."

todd.martens@latimes.com

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