Update Monday 12:30 p.m. — Live Nation Carolinas President Grant Lyman responded to questions about Greenfield Lake Amphitheater, saying “Now that Live Nation has a relationship with the City of Wilmington we are excited to explore other opportunities that may exist in the region, and how we may be able to utilize our presence in the market.”
WILMINGTON — As part of the city’s ongoing negotiations with Live Nation, the entertainment company has expressed an interest in taking over operations of Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.
In early August, Grant Lyman, president of Live Nation Carolinas, emailed Amy Beatty, the city’s director of community services.
“We wanted to follow up on our conversations last week about GLA. Can you shoot me those F&B numbers (food and beverage), as well as the rent/per ticket breakdowns from the last few years for the City from GLA? We would love to dive into what potential upside exists from our operation of the venue,” Lyman wrote.
Currently, the city owns the physical venue – formally known as Hugh Morton amphitheater – and allows private companies to produce events there. The city charges a rental fee and receives half or more of the proceeds from food and beverage concessions, including alcohol (higher-volume and long-term producers get a larger share).
Beatty said the city had not had a formal conversation with Live Nation about either managing or purchasing the venue from the city. Asked about Lyman’s email, Beatty said that Live Nation would be allowed to produce shows there like any other company.
But Live Nation already has already had a hand in many shows at Greenfield Lake in 2018. Also, “operation of the venue” is traditionally different from producing shows.
“I don’t know the level or degree of interest in the amphitheater by Live Nation,” Beatty said when asked what Live Nation intended by “operation.”
According to city emails, Beatty had city staff compile a spreadsheet of attendance, food and beverage revenue and costs, and overall profit from the venue.
Beatty also contacted Jennifer Maready, the city’s finance director. Maready said she had not yet met with Beatty.
According to city email records, Maready inquired into whether the city was carrying any debt on Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. Maready declined to comment on a follow-up question about whether such an inquiry would be a prerequisite to a sale of the venue.
Instead, City Spokesperson Malissa Talbert responded, saying, “I can categorically say the city is not planning to sell the amphitheater.”
The debt inquiry, Talbert said, was a “government requirement” before “allowing a private company to use public space,” but couldn’t specify what exactly that would mean for Live Nation and Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.
The city’s ongoing negotiations with Live Nation also apparently include the possibility of extending Live Nation’s 10-year contract to operate the North Riverfront Park venue. The contract extension, offered in exchange for increased capital investment by Live Nation in the park, was at one point headed to City Council’s August 7 meeting.
Beatty acknowledged that the contract extension had been discussed earlier in the summer, but said the issue had been tabled to focus on getting details of the venue’s design worked out to allow construction to begin in early 2019.
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