By John Schaffner
johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net

The city may sell naming rights to the Chastain amphitheater.

The city of Atlanta is planning to raise prices at the Chastain Park Amphitheater by $1.50 a ticket to pay in part for improvements to the concert venue. The city also agreed to sell naming rights for the venue for additional revenues. .

Atlanta City Council is expected to vote Jan. 6 on a contract renewal with Chastain Ventures that calls for the additional ticket surcharge. The proposal passed the council’s Community Development/Human Resources Committee just before the holiday break.

“I think we made real good progress on the new contract,” said Dist. 8 City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean.

She said it might have been possible to have gotten a little more, but she was pleased with the financial gains made with the new contract.

Under the contract, Chastain Ventures will pay the city a base rent of $275,000 per year for use of the amphitheater from 2011 through 2015 and a base rent of $300,000 from 2016 through 2020.

But Adrean said a real significant gain in the new contract was “that we established a floor of $440,000 that Chastain Ventures is responsible to pay the city each year from ancillary income.”

The new contract also authorizes Chastain Ventures to contract, with the approval of the Parks Department commissioner, naming rights for the amphitheater. The city would receive half of the proceeds from the naming. That portion of the contract would expire at the end of 2015, unless extended through 2020.

“Selling the naming rights gives the city a new source of revenue, which is a positive,” Adrean said.

The renewal contract would continue the $3-per-seat surcharge now added to the cost of amphitheater tickets and would add $1.50 more through the new surcharge. The vendor also will provide the city revenue from parking. The new agreement calls for the additional $1.50-per-seat to be divided, with $1 retained by Chastain Ventures and 50 cents going to the city.

The revenues do not go into the city’s general fund, but rather are to be deposited into dedicated accounts used for Chastain Park landscaping, security and capital improvement costs and for the Centers of Hope and their youth programming.

Adrean explained that one last financial benefit to the city written into the new contract is that the millions of dollars Chastain Ventures has spent on improvements to the amphitheater over the past 20 years were set given no value, meaning the city does not owe the vendor anything for those improvements.

Chastain Ventures is comprised of the Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center, Inc., on behalf of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Live Nation Worldwide, Inc.

The contract renewal is to take effect as of Jan. 1, 2011.

Chastain Ventures also is to evaluate the needs of each concert on an individual basis and allocate security based on that evaluation. Additionally, the city may provide input regarding public safety coverage for a particular event and that input may include public comment.

The contract also will require that the city review amphitheater sound data and analysis of sound trends and determine the efficiency of city sound equipment to ensure compliance with the city’s noise ordinance.

“We added two more sound studies into the new contract—one at the end of three years and the second and the end of year eight,” Adrean said, which will be conducted at the discretion and control of the Parks Department commissioner.