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Live Nation seeks dismissal of Murat lawsuit

April 16, 2010

Live Nation Worldwide Inc. is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Murat Shriners over a naming-rights deal for the Murat Centre in downtown Indianapolis.

The Shriners believe Live Nation, which leases the iconic venue at 502. N. New Jersey St., needed permission to change the facility's name to the Old National Centre, as part of a three-year deal with Old National Bank. The Shriners affiliate that owns the Murat, the Murat Temple Association, filed suit March 26, seeking an injunction to remove signage and receive unspecified damages.

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Live Nation is represented in the lawsuit by Shawna Eikenberry, a construction and real estate attorney for Indianapolis-based Baker & Daniels. In a brief filed April 14 in Marion Superior Court, Eikenberry said the Murat lease grants "rights that are broad in scope." Eikenberry went on to note that the assocation's complaint "cites no provisions in the lease that prohibit Live Nation from changing signs on its leased premise, or otherwise change the name of the buildings Live Nation has leased. That is because the lease contains no such provisions."

The Murat lease was struck Sept. 1, 1995, and runs for 100 years. It covers the main public spaces within the complex, including the Murat Theatre and Egyptian Room. Eikenberry notes that the lease also covers, "all appurtances, rights, privileges and interest" belonging to or related to the leased areas, or "derived therefrom."

The only naming restriction in the document refers to the 100-year-old Murat Theatre. Live Nation did not change the name of the 2,500-seat theater or the Egyptian Room, so it's in compliance with the lease, Eikenberry said in the brief.

The lease also allows Live Nation to change or add signs to the building, as long as they are legal and are removed at the end of the lease, Eikenberry said. The only time the lease requires Live Nation to seek permission to put up a sign or make other changes to the building, Eikenberry noted, is if there's a change to the "external appearance and structural integrity of the improvement." Otherwise, the lease states, "consent of the lessor shall not be required."

"Changes to both appearance and structural integrity are required in order for Live Nation to need consent," Eikenberry wrote. "MTA has pleaded itself out of court, and its complaint should be dismissed."

Legal experts say the case is likely to come down to the language in the lease.

 

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