SILVER SPRING, MD (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Seth Hurwitz isn't taking the apparent devotion of Montgomery County's government to promoter Live Nation laying down. In response to stories that floated in various regional media outlets in recent weeks that the Live Nation Fillmore in Silver Spring was essentially a done deal, Hurwitz has retained a lobbying team to raise issues about the nature of the contract and how it was arranged in an effort to re-open bidding for the venue.
Initially slated to be a new Birchmere, a 2007 change in the leadership of the county government quickly led to a dissolution of the Birchmere deal with promoter Live Nation waiting in the wings. An agreement between LN and the County to develop a new Fillmore was quickly reached and announced with as a virtually done-deal but since then, another promoter, Seth Hurwitz from IMP has also expressed an interest in the site and has countered Live Nation's deal with one of his own that would appear to be a much better arrangement for the county.
Live Nation is asking for $4 million from both the county and the Maryland state gov't, in addition to land donated by a local developer, Lee Development Corp. In return, they would provide $7,500 a month in rent for the theatre. Hurwitz' proposal requires 25% less of an investment from the state and county and offers double the rent of LN's proposal at a $15,000 a month. The county maintains that is it bound to honor its agreement with Live Nation (despite the letter of intent tendered by the promoter being specifically non-binding) but some, including county council members have questioned the wisdom of taking the most expensive of two proposals, particularly when the county is facing significant financial shortfalls in its budget.
Hurwitz lobby team has been pressing their case with both city council and members of the Maryland General Assembly, who as a result of the effort, asked Montgomery County exec Isiah Leggett to "explain" the process to them. Beyond that, their efforts have born little fruit with the county
's senate delegation, which has thus far declined to request that the bidding process be re-opened.
"The lobbyist questioned the way the agreement was made with Live Nation, and implied that an opportunity wasn’t given to the 9:30 Club. … We found out that this was an economic development deal and the county doesn’t need to put it out for a [request for bids]," Kramer said. "In fact, the 9:30 Club people did have opportunities to approach the county with an offer and didn’t take it."
There are still some moves to be made before the endgame is concluded. The Montgomery County Council still needs to vote to approve the deal and as of yet, the council remains quite divided. "I still think it was a rip-off and we could have done better." council member Marc Elrich told the Washington Post.
There has been growing pushback in the community as well. A local group called Institute for Independent Music has launched a website called nolivenation.com to rally support against the Fillmore.
"We believe very strongly that we don’t want large corporate entities telling us who to listen to, or what to see." IIM member Ken Wingate, told the Gazette. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers