By Alfred Branch, Jr.

On the same day it announced a major cross-promotion and marketing deal with Papa John’s pizza, the nation’s second-largest primary ticket seller Live Nation also said it would stop managing the 18,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheater near Kansas City, MO, when the current deal is done.

Details of the amphitheater decision – the contract expires at the end of the year – were not available at press time, but Live Nation had until the end of the month to decide on its future intentions. Live Nation also manages the nearby 3,500-seat Memorial Hall until the end of the year, but there was no word as to what would happen with that contract. and the Kansas City Star newspaper reported that among the reasons why Live Nation may have balked at renewing its contract is because it was thwarted in a request to expand the venue’s stage.

Live Nation spokesperson John Vlautin told the Kansas City Star that the company “remains committed” to holding events in the city. “The 2007 summer concert season will not be affected by this decision, and [we] will continue to bring top-quality talent to other venues in the Kansas City area.” . . .

The Papa John’s deal will extend Live Nation’s reach tremendously. “This partnership will allow us to reach millions of consumers attending some of the year’s biggest concerts,” Bill Van Epps, Papa John’s president USA, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to serving our award-winning pizza to Live Nation concert goers throughout the country.”

Papa John’s will become the “Official Pizza of Live Nation,” and will first be sold at 24 Live Nation-managed outdoor amphitheaters and will add 11 venues over the next three years, according to the companies.

“We are always looking for national partners who deliver great products for our fans,” Russell Wallach, Live Nation President of Alliances, said in a prepared statement. “Music fans will love having Papa John’s pizza at their favorite concerts in many of our amphitheatres this summer and we are looking forward to working with the Papa John’s team in the development of additional promotional opportunities in the future.”

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