AEG, House of Blues To Operate NextStage

Anschutz Entertainment Group and House of Blues have teamed up to
take over NextStage at Grand Prairie, the $65 million 6,350-seat city-owned
theater that filed Chapter 11 after six months of operation on August 1
(CelebrityAccess, August 2).

On September 6, AEG submitted the only bid, which was turned down. At a
second U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction on September 11 in Dallas, AEG
disclosed House of Blues as being part of the deal. Anschutz's $200,000 bid must get approval by the Grand Prairie City Council and bankruptcy judge Harold Abramson. A special meeting is scheduled for September 16.

Tom Hicks' Southwest Sports Group of Dallas, manager of the new American Airlines
Center and The Ballpark in Arlington and owner of the Rangers, did not
file a bid but said at the September 6 auction that it is interested in bidding for the contract. At the September 16 meeting, if the judge decides more than one bidder is needed, Hicks might get a chance to put his bid in.

Under the agreement Anschutz will form a joint venture with House of Blues, which will operate and book shows into the venue. He will retain at least 50 percent interest in the venture. Anschutz will take over lease payments which will jump to about $1 million annually next year. About 19 years remain on the lease. The city of Grand Prairie will waive $150,000 in additional rent that the venue operator would have to pay on top of the $1 million. The city would also waive $130,000 in annual payments to the Grand Prairie school district in exchange for four additional dates for the district's use of NextStage.

Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England called the agreement "a good deal for us," reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think we're bringing someone in that will be
able to book a lot more shows and a lot more quality shows than the original
operator," he said.

"We achieved our
objective," Grand Prairie City Manager Tom Hart said
Wednesday. "We wanted a world-class operator."

This will mark House of Blues' second venture into the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex; it already owns Smirnoff Music Center in Dallas. AEG owns or operates a number of facilities including the Forum and Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"We hit a home run," said Mike Monaco, interim chief executive of
NextStage Entertainment, who was in charge of finding a new operator. "We will have
two of the three biggest content providers running this facility. This is the home
run we were looking for."

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