Concert promoter Seth Hurwitz is no stranger to squaring off against Live Nation Entertainment, having testified before Congress against the company’s merger with Ticketmaster, and having sued the company for alleged anti-competitive practices. Now, the Chairman of live entertainment company I.M.P., and the owner of the famous Washington DC-based 9:30 Club, has filed a lawsuit against Maryland state officials for their part in approving a new venue deal with Live Nation that will cost millions in state-issued bonds for construction.
The named defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed this week in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, are Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Secretary of Budget and Management Eloise Foster and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot. It alleges that the three representing the state are illegally issuing $4 million in bonds to help pay for the construction of a 2,000-person capacity venue in Silver Spring, MD. Hurwitz and I.M.P. believe the officials and Live Nation have not fully disclosed the true cost of the project to taxpayers.
“I think if the public knew how every step of this thing has been back-roomed and steam rolled, they would be properly outraged,” Hurwitz told TicketNews in a statement. “We are going to begin the process of uncovering these layers.”
Live Nation signed a deal in 2008 with Montgomery County to create the concert venue in question at the site of a former J.C. Penney department store, but according to the lawsuit, officials allegedly gave the contract to Live Nation without sufficient bids or disclosure. Local and county officials had sought for years to create a venue in the area, but initially considered a smaller, cabaret-style dinner theater.
“The County never revealed the detailed renovation and refurbishing work requested by Live Nation as part of its agreement,” the lawsuit states. “These request included demands for specific renovations, accoutrements, wood paneling, electrical and plumbing details, stage lighting, and scores of additional itemized details.
“Despite promising Live Nation that it would build the music hall, Montgomery County never provided the Maryland General Assembly a cost estimate for this promise for the specific terms of the agreement. The few sparse documents submitted by Montgomery County in supposed satisfaction of the General Assembly’s conditions were deemed inadequate by the Capital Budget Chairman and the Department of Legislative Services in 2008,” the lawsuit states.
Hurwitz and I.M.P. sought to meet with county officials about a proposal it had for a venue in the area, but reportedly never got a chance to make its pitch before the officials announced they were bringing in Live Nation for the 2,000-capacity project.
In addition to taxpayer money going toward the construction of venue, Live Nation also allegedly received a lease agreement at below market rate prices, the lawsuit states.
Live Nation did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.