Ozzy sues against rule to play LA arena

Ozzie Osbourne, here in a 2003 picture with wife Sharon, is suing entertainment company AEG for making performers play at Los Angeles’ Staples Center as a condition for playing at London’s 02 Arena.(AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Ozzy Osbourne has sued to stop a requirement to play the Staples Center in Los Angeles which he said was imposed by its owner as a condition to book London’s lucrative 02 Arena.

The British-born metal legend filed a class-action suit this week in his adopted home of Los Angeles, meaning he hopes a judge will allow other artists to join him in the case.

In the lawsuit, Osbourne said that the AEG entertainment company which owns both venues told him that artists on global tours had to play the Staples Center if they perform at The O2 Arena, a 20,000-capacity venue on the River Thames that opened in 2007.

“The O2 is a singular concert venue — the only indoor arena in London with the capacity to host major concerts. The O2 is a ‘must-have’ venue for the top international touring artist,” he said, pointing to data that showed that the arena was the most profitable in the world in ticket sales.

By contrast, Osbourne said the Staples Center had a credible rival in Los Angeles in The Forum, an arena renovated several years ago by the owners of Madison Square Garden in New York.

The lawsuit asks for a court to block the “blatant anticompetitive conduct” of AEG and does not seek financial compensation other than lawyers’ fees.

Responding to the lawsuit, AEG chairman and CEO Jay Marciano said that his company was not alone and urged a closer look at the practices of Madison Square Garden and concert promotion giant Live Nation.

“This suit is without merit and we will vigorously fight it. We welcome a closer look at the global live entertainment market and, specifically, our practices and the practices of our competition,” he said in a statement.

Madison Square Garden did not respond to a request for comment but the lawsuit said that the company did not make similar requirements, while noting that New York had strong competition among arenas.

Osbourne, the occult-dabbling former frontman of Black Sabbath, next month embarks on what he says will be his final world tour.

The 69-year-old has no concerts scheduled in London but will play the open-air Hollywood Bowl in the Los Angeles area.