The closure of the Gibson Amphitheatre will leave a hole in Southern California's concert scene, but one local promoter says there are plenty of other venues to pick up the slack.
And if ticket prices for the Rolling Stones' Los Angeles-area shows are any indication, fans are more than willing to fork over big bucks to see their favorite performers.
Nose-bleed seats for tonight's Stones show at Staples Center were priced Thursday at $277 and many of floor seats were selling for $600. On Wednesday, the few remaining seats positioned directly in front of the stage were going for as much as $4,645 apiece.
Live Nation Entertainment announced last week that the lease on the 6,100-seat Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City facility is ending in September and that it will be closing to make way for the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter," part of a major theme park and studio expansion by property owner NBCUniversal.
"Agents are already on the phone moving dates from the Gibson to other places and we hope to pick up on some of those dates that might move," said Alex Hodges, CEO of Nederlander Concerts, which promotes and produces live shows at the Greek Theatre and Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the City National Grove of Anaheim, among other venues.
"There is an element of sadness about the Gibson closing, but it also offers great opportunities for Nederlander."
Hodges said venues throughout the Southland are angling to pick up some the Gibson's over-booked business.
"We have a very healthy concert climate here in Southern California," he said. "Most of us in the business would say that Los Angeles is over-seated. There are just too many venues and too many seats. It's very competitive and everybody wants more shows."
And concertgoers are paying to see them.
"Ticket prices really depend on the artist and what they think they want," said Roxane Requio(cq), marketing director for radio station KLOS. "I do think some ticket prices are outrageous. But when someone doesn't tour for a long time ... people know they will be paying money to see them."
Most ticket prices are nowhere near the stratospheric level of the Stones' Southland concerts. But that doesn't mean they're cheap. Tickets to Sting's June 3 show at the Greek Theatre range from $54 to $150, and Fleetwood Mac tickets for the band's May 28 performance at Honda Center in Anaheim run from $69.85 to $169.50.
Figures from Pollstar, a trade publication that covers the concert industry, reveal a wide range of average ticket prices for such artists as The Who ($89.50), Taylor Swift ($81.46), Paul McCartney ($127.62), James Taylor ($58.43) and Pat Metheny ($53.05), among others. But those are average ticket prices, not the premium seats fans covet.
"Ticket prices are much more expensive today than they were 20 and 30 years ago," said Gary Bongiovanni, Pollstar's editor in chief. "Dollar-wise, the concert market has never been bigger. But they're doing that by selling more expensive tickets rather than selling more tickets."
Bongiovanni said the pricing model for concert tickets changed in 1994 when Pink Floyd opted to charge two different prices. Up until that point, concert tickets for a specific show at a specific venue were all priced the same.
"They did $40 tickets and $60 tickets," he said. "They were charging a premium for the better seats. Those $60 tickets were gobbled up right away."
The Stones soon followed suit. The change ultimately fueled a secondary market for such companies as StubHub.com and TicketsNow.com , which often charge inflated prices for premium seats, Bongiovanni said.
Concertgoer James Smith weighed in on the Stones' high ticket prices in a recent posting on Pollstar.com .
"The tickets selling at $600 have put a very bad taste in my mouth about this whole tour and casts a bad light on ultimate greediness of the band and their promoter," Smith wrote. "So bad in fact, that you couldn't pay me at this point to go. They made their proverbial beds and now they have to lay in them."
Southern California's network of concert venues is extensive. The region boasts a myriad of small clubs and theaters, as well as a variety of mid-sized to large facilities, ranging from the 18,000-seat Hollywood Bowl and Staples Center (20,000 seats) in downtown Los Angeles, to the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino (65,000 seats) and Long Beach Arena (13,000 seats), among others.
One thing is certain -- staging live shows is expensive. Hodges said the costs add up quickly.
"At the Greek we pay an average of $85,000 to $100,000 per concert for the talent, but it can be as high as $350,000 for some artists," he said. "And then we pay rent through the city of L.A. There are also other costs for things like stagehands, advertising, security, ushers and food and drinks. There are a lot of logistics involved. When you factor in the administrative and booking staff ... it can become a very expensive proposition."
Profits can be lost quickly, Hodges said.
"You can lose $50,000 to $100,000 in the blink of an eye when your profit potential was only $15,000 to $25,000," he said. "On a show that doesn't meet your expectations you would hope to be able to break even and move on to the next. If you lose money it may take three or four more winners to make up the loss."