“London’s most essential large concert venue” is the O2 Arena, selling fifty percent more tickets in 2016 than any other arena-sized venue in the world. Why, then, has rock star Ozzy Osbourne filed a class action relating to it? Because, the complaint says, Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. (AEG) requires that artists who book the O2 as part of a tour also book the Staples Center for the Los Angeles part of their tours, in what the complaint says is an anti-competitive condition that violates antitrust laws.
The class for this action is all persons required to sign the Staples Center Commitment as a condition of renting, booking, or otherwise using the O2.
The complaint believes that both the O2 and the Staples Center are managed by subsidiaries or affiliates of AEG. The complaint calls O2 a “monopolist” for arena-sized venues in London, with no comparable arena venues in the area. Artists must therefore book the O2 if they wish to include London in their tours.
Unlike London, the complaint says, Los Angeles is a competitive venue market, so that artists playing that city have the benefits of competition between the Staples Center and the Forum—or, at least, it says they should have that benefit if AEG didn’t attempt to short-circuit competition.
Osbourne found out about this when his promoter attempted to book the O2 as part of his final world tour in 2019, “No More Tours 2.” The promoter asked for a date in February, which was available, but then received an agreement including a letter with the subject line “Staples Center Commitment—Ozzy Osbourne at The O2 Arena.” The letter, as quoted in the complaint, required an “irrevocable and binding commitment” that if Osbourne booked O2, then “you shall ensure that at least one of those Ozzy Osbourne shows in Los Angeles shall be held at the Staples Center…”
When Osbourne’s manager refused to sign the agreement, she was told that the policy was related to a dispute between the Forum and Staples, and that she would not be permitted to book O2 if she did not sign.
Since there was no substitute arena available in London, the agreement was eventually signed, but the complaint says that this “tying arrangement” is anti-competitive and violates the Sherman Act antitrust law.
The complaint is not asking for monetary damages, because it says the benefits of competition and the choice of arena for an artist are “impossible to catalogue, let alone value…” It seeks instead to have the court nullify the Staples Center Commitment, for Osbourne and all others who seek to book O2.Article Type: Lawsuit