City of Wilmington set to name Live Nation as management company of Hugh Morton Amphitheater

The Hugh Morton Amphitheater 

WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Hugh Morton Amphitheater (also known as Greenfield Lake Amphitheater) could soon be under new management if the Wilmington City Council moves forward with plans to award a 10-year contract to Live Nation.

“Live Nation was selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Two firms responded to the RFP with Live Nation being selected by the interview committee. Firms were evaluated based upon business plan, qualifications and experience of the proposed team members, references, financial proposal, and diversity plan,” according to City Council’s upcoming agenda for Sept. 1.

The amphitheater itself is owned by the City of Wilmington, but events are run by outside companies who rent the space from the city. The City then gets money through profit-sharing between itself and the event promoters for things like ticket fees along with concession sales.

Previously, multiple event promoters, including Live Nation, put on shows at the venue and while the venue will remain publicly owned, Live Nation will manage the venue and day-to-day operations. The city’s parks department has been responsible for managing the venue — now — that duty will fall on Live Nation if the resolution is passed.

Duties for managing the amphitheater include:

  • Booking event and scheduling services
  • Venue consulting
  • Facility management
  • Food and beverage concessions

In October of 2019, the city issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting qualified businesses to submit proposals to manage the venue, relieving the city of management duties for day-to-day operations of the facility.

“The City is seeking an organization that will maintain the high quality of services currently being offered, while ensuring the availability of the facility for current civic and cultural events including, but not limited to, the annual Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green performances and N.C. Azalea Festival event,” the RFP read.

Initially the timeline for companies to respond with their proposals was roughly 30 days with a due date of Nov. 19, but that date was pushed back until December of last year.

Ultimately two companies submitted proposals, AEG and Live Nation and the latter was recommended to take over operations.

So what is in it for the city?

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a stop to concerts and other events worldwide so plans for Live Nation have been adjusted to account for that.

“Due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, the agreement has two sets of terms. For calendar year 2020, the only fees the Manager will be subject to pay to the City are a $700 per event fee and $2.00 per ticket sold,” according to the agenda.

However, starting in 2021 the city will receive annual fixed rent as well as additional revenues from ticket sales and renovations and other improvements to the venue.

“Beginning 2021, the City will receive $40,000 annually in fixed rent for up to 30 events and an additional $1,500 for each event between 31 to 40 from Live Nation and $250,000 for in-kind value of maintenance expenses over the prescribed term of the contract. Additionally, the City will receive $2.00 per-ticket in revenue. Live Nation will also provide an initial capital investment of $500,000 dollars for equipment, fixtures, and furnishings, with half of the improvements being completed within 18 months of the first 2021 Concert Event and the remaining balance of the improvements completed by the end of 2026,” according to the resolution,” according to the resolution.

This will be the second contract the city is entering into with Live Nation, North Waterfront Park, which is currently under construction, is also going to be managed by the company.