Concert venues case wrapped up

January 23, 2010
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Instead of setting a court date, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Delta-Turner LLC against the Convention and Arena Authority and SMG, the firm that oversees daily operations at Van Andel Arena.

Delta-Turner, which owns and operates the DeltaPlex Entertainment and Expo Center in Walker, had filed a legal complaint against the CAA and SMG in June 2008 alleging that the defendants entered into a “preferred provider agreement” with Cellar Door Productions of Michigan, a subsidiary of the world’s largest concert promoter Live Nation Inc.

The complaint claimed the agreement called for the arena to receive a third of the net-event revenue Live Nation collects from the concerts it books at the DeltaPlex and at three other area venues.

In turn, Delta-Turner said the contract also called for the CAA to give Live Nation a third of the net-event revenue it receives from concerts held in the arena that are booked by other promoters.

The plaintiff also said in 2008 that the contract had been in place for about a decade and the agreement created unfair competition in the region because it diverted live shows away from other venues in the area to Van Andel Arena.

In essence, the suit charged the CAA and SMG with violating federal and state antitrust laws when booking some concerts that were held at the arena and with breaching the Michigan Open Meetings and Freedom of Information acts. Delta-Turner sought damages in the seven figures.

Neff, though, dismissed the suit with full prejudice and without cost to all parties.

“It was dismissed to the full satisfaction of the CAA. The CAA did not end up paying any amounts to Delta-Turner or anyone else in the settlement of the litigation,” said Dick Wendt, the CAA’s counsel and a partner at Dickinson Wright PLLC, which represented the CAA in the legal action.

The CAA didn’t have to pay attorney fees, either, as the board’s insurance policy picked up some of those costs.

“There was no settlement paid by the CAA or anyone else on our behalf,” said Wendt.

As a result of negotiations between the parties, the CAA agreed not to enter into any agreement that directly or indirectly identifies the DeltaPlex, or receive any funds from a promoter or third party from an event held at the DeltaPlex. Both sides agreed they wouldn’t enter into a contract that would discourage any business or anyone from doing business at the arena or the DeltaPlex. The agreements also apply to SMG.

Some touring shows, however, are exempt from the agreements because of contractual requirements that stipulate locations, time between venue appearances, and distance between performances. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice are examples of shows that are exempted.

The two sides created the agreements without going through a formal mediation process.

“It’s over,” said Wendt. “And it didn’t cost the CAA a cent.”

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