The ownership of Cleveland venue has filed a lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment, claiming nearly $100 million in damages after a brief business relationship went south in 2019. TempleLive, which owns and operates the Masonic Cleveland space, alleges that the promotional and ticketing behemoth is in violation of both a settlement between the two entities after they briefly worked together and the 2009 consent decree that Live Nation agreed to with the Department of Justice upon its merger with Ticketmaster, which was recently renewed in a settlement with the DOJ.
The lawsuit alleges tortious interference and breach of contract, and asks for damages of more than $90 million from the California-based corporation.
Masonic Cleveland is celebrating its 100th year in 2021, having served as the original home of the Cleveland Orchestra. It was purchased by TempleLive of Arkansas from the Scottish Rite Masons in 2017 for $725,000. The 102,000 square foot building features a 2,200 seat auditorium that has seen performances by acts including MGMT, Bastille, Fitz and the tantrums, Joe Rogan, Leon Bridges of late.
In 2018, TempleLive and Live Nation entered into an agreement where the nation’s largest promotional entity would book, promote, and provide ticketing for all events at the space. That fell apart in 2019, with the companies parting ways with a confidential settlement that “released each other from any claims for additional compensation.” Live Nation produced additional shows in the space from that point, with the most recent taking place in November 2019.
But TempleLive says that when its new booking agent tried to approach Live Nation about booking shows for TempleLive, a Live Nation employee said it “would not book events at TempleLive because TempleLive allegedly owes money to Live Nation.” TempleLive said a similar interaction happened with a different Live Nation representative.
TempleLive believes that if Live Nation made statements like that to its representatives, that “Live Nation’s false statements have been made, or are reasonably likely to be made, to others in the live music business in Cleveland, or elsewhere throughout the United States.”
The 2009 consent decree that paved the way for Live Nation and Ticketmaster to come under the same corporate umbrella included language prohibiting retaliatory action by the promoter in the event of venue operators opting against using Ticketmaster for their events. After a string of accusations alleging that the company regularly ignored these conditions, the Department of Justice sued Live Nation, emerging from the action with a settlement and extension of the consent decree through 2025.
In this latest legal challenge, Live Nation maintains that it has done no wrong by its onetime exclusive partner.
“As TempleLive is well aware, following the settlement in 2019 where Live Nation released TempleLive from additional financial claims we walked away from our booking partnership and are under no obligation to continue to book events at the venue. We wish them all the best,” Live Nation said in a statement.
Masonic Cleveland has been shuttered since the spring of 2020, and does not show any upcoming events on its calendar despite recent shifts in government policy allowing some venues to reopen with capacity and distancing requirements in place. As of May 2020, there were plans for a hotel to be developed adjacent to the venue that would contain dining and nightlife venues, 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space, parking, and 207 rooms.