Global venue operator AEG has filed a motion to dismiss an anti-trust lawsuit brought against the company by Ozzy Osbourne, which it claims is an extension of the acrimonious fight it has with the management of New York’s Madison Square Garden (cap. 19,000) and offshoot Azoff MSE MSG Entertainment (see Audience issue 210).
Osbourne’s tour promoter, Live Nation Entertainment (LNE), says the artiste was forced to play AEG’s Staples Center (20,000) in Los Angeles, rather than rival venue The Forum (17,500), operated by Azoff MSG.
AEG and Azoff MSG each warn artistes that if they want to play their respective flagship venues, London’s The O2 (21,000) and Madison Square Garden, then they must also stay loyal to the companies’ respective venues in LA, the Staples Center and The Forum.
LNE is understood to be a supporter of the Azoff MSG stance. Azoff is a former LNE chairman and AEG’s live division AEG Live/Concerts West is a direct competitor to LNE.
“On the surface plaintiff Ozzy Osbourne purports to bring an anti-trust lawsuit against AEG in the name of artistic freedom to protect artistes such as himself from being coerced into performing at Staples Center instead of the Forum,” says AEG in documents seen by Audience.
“But in reality, this case is a poorly disguised attempt by Ozzy’s promoters, Live Nation, to pressure defendants to abandon their lawful efforts to compete for bookings in Los Angeles and counteract Live Nation’s tactics to steer business away from venues that AEG owns.”
It adds that the so-called Staples Commitment was made between AEG and LNE and not Osbourne himself, therefore it imposes “no legal obligation” on the singer to play Staples, although would prevent LNE promoting other LA shows.
AEG alleges its linked booking policy was introduced after MSGC and Azoff suggested acts would only be able to play Madison Square Garden, if they played The Forum instead of the Staples.
LNE declined to comment.
Meanwhile, in a move that will undoubtedly heighten tension between the rival companies, Madison Square Garden management intends to submit a planning application later this year for a 20,000-capacity sphere-shaped arena in London, just a few miles from AEG’s The O2.