L.A.’s Greek Theater Gets a Face-Lift
Sat Aug 28, 7:57 AM ET Add Entertainment – Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Jill Kipnis
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – The Greek Theater is celebrating its anniversary in style.
In anticipation of its 75th concert season, the 6,162-seat outdoor amphitheater underwent an $8 million renovation project, including a new JBL sound system and upgrades to the original facade.
The venue’s renovations, completed in April, also included a new plaza and improvements to concession stands and the backstage.
The Greek — which has been managed, operated and promoted by the Nederlander organization for almost 30 years and is owned by the City of Los Angeles — also has lined up special events, such as the first Los Angeles concerts by Aretha Franklin in 21 years.
Additionally, the 2-year-old alliance between Nederlander and Los Angeles-based House of Blues (which operates the indoor, 6,251-seat Universal Amphitheater in Universal City, Calif.) to jointly book and market the Greek and Universal concert seasons has eased competitive booking practices between the two venues. The Greek and Universal also combined their subscription series into the Premiere Marquee Club, which allows concert-goers to prepurchase shows at both venues. Members receive preferred seating locations, advance notice of upcoming shows and exclusive discounts.
“From a booking standpoint, it has been beneficial to artists because they get to choose among two 6,000-seat venues and whether they want to play indoors or outdoors,” Nederlander’s Scher says. “The Premiere Marquee Club also helps expose our artists to as many fans as possible.”
Alex Hodges, executive VP for HOB, adds that comparing calendars avoids “fractionalizing the market. One of the key advantages is to avoid having similar artists playing on the same day at both venues. That’s not fair to the artists. We’re able to help them achieve the best circumstances in Los Angeles.”
The Greek has continued to stand out among Los Angeles venues during its storied history because of its intimate, outdoor setting in Los Angeles’ tree-filled Griffith Park, which has drawn a varied group of musical acts and concertgoers.
“Outdoor amphitheaters were totally innovative when I first started booking shows 25 or 30 years ago,” says James M. Nederlander, chairman of the company that bears his family’s name. The organization owns and operates more than 25 theaters and amphitheaters worldwide.
“In the summer, I feel most of the acts would rather play outdoors in beautiful weather than indoors,” he says. “People would rather go to the Greek because it is a gorgeous night out.”
Ken Scher, senior VP of Nederlander Concerts, notes that many artists who could play larger venues in Los Angeles “choose to play the Greek because of its great ambience. It gives the artist great rapport with the fans.”
Numerous acts, including Chicago and the Gipsy Kings, have returned to the Greek over the years. And artists are choosing to appear at the venue for special shows such as this season’s sold-out Franklin performances (Sept. 17-18) and Carole King (news)’s first concert tour in more than a decade (Aug. 19).
The Greek is the site where Neil Diamond (news) recorded his live double album “Hot August Night” in 1972, and where he played 14 nights in 1986 with his “Hot August Night” shows, which set an attendance record of 84,672.
Rock act the Who holds the record for the venue’s highest-grossing one-night event, which was set Sept. 17, 2002, when the band raked in $795,000.
Harry Belafonte (news), Chicago, Gipsy Kings, Johnny Mathis (news) and Santana also have made it into the Greek’s “Wall of Fame” for selling more than 100,000 tickets.