AEG Live has announced a new deal with the Royal Parks to stage six events in London’s Hyde Park each year starting next year. Specific details are as yet vague, though there is talk of a “new festival”. Whether that will encompass all six events, or constitute just one of them, isn’t clear.
AEG takes over from main rival Live Nation, which has run the summer stage in the London park for over a decade, developing festival formats for it like Wireless and Hard Rock Calling, and this year staging a number of Olympics-themed entertainments too.
As previously reported, Live Nation recently announced it was pulling out of the bidding for the new five year contract to stage events in Hyde Park, claiming that increasingly draconian licensing conditions from Westminster Council had made producing events there ever more difficult, and that terms set out by the Royal Parks as part of the rebidding process were unacceptable.
Live Nation COO John Probyn was pretty outspoken about the issues around staging events in the London park in various interviews, telling Access All Areas: “Hyde Park is the most expensive venue in the country and the stakeholders just don’t want events in there. I’ve kept saying that it’s a fantastic site, and in its heyday it was, but for the last four years it’s been a nightmare. We have no desire to be involved with a loss-leading project, or to work with someone who doesn’t understand what we’re doing”.
He added that anyone else considering taking on the Hyde Park concerts would face an uphill struggle, with excessive noise pollution rules and curfews now routinely pissing off both artists and punters alike, while costs associated with the site make it ever more challenging to profit from the venture.
Few other live entertainment companies were ever going to be able to afford to operate a site like Hyde Park, and Live Nation’s biggest rival, AEG, was always the most obvious contender. Whether the currently-for-sale AEG entertainment company will live to regret not listening to Probyn’s warnings remains to be seen, execs there might be of the opinion that Live Nation has been so unusually vocal about its issues with the Royal Parks and Westminster Council mainly to pre-empt any possible “Live Nation loses prime London site to main rivals” reports.
Either way, AEG Europe boss Jay Marciano managed to be duly excited in his official statement announcing the new venture, in which he told reporters: “AEG Live is proud to be partnering with the Royal Parks in the creation of an exceptional and ground-breaking new summer festival for London. Utilising AEG’s global resources and expertise in delivering similar landmark music festivals, such as the annual Coachella and Stagecoach festivals in California, this event shall set a new standard for the enjoyment of live music at this iconic location”.
Possibly responding to Probyn’s claims that top artists were tiring of the Hyde Park stage because of the aforementioned noise restrictions, AEG’s President Of International Touring Rob Hallett added: “While Hyde Park has traditionally attracted high calibre artists, our plans for reinvigorating the venue with a fresh and innovative new event already have the artist community very excited. I look forward to bringing the world’s premiere headlining talent to our pioneering new London festival”.