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LA-based entertainment company buys music venues in Richmond and Norfolk

LA-based entertainment company buys music venues in Richmond and Norfolk

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The National can hold 1,500 people and averages 180 shows a year, its website said.

A California entertainment conglomerate has bought The National in Richmond and The NorVa in Norfolk.

Both music venues are now part of AEG Live, the live music and entertainment division of Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group.

The National, a historic music venue at 708 E. Broad St. in downtown Richmond, was purchased for $6.7 million Oct. 1, city property records show. The building and land are assessed for $11 million, according to the city assessor’s office.

The NorVa was bought for $5.9 million Sept. 24, according to Norfolk property records.

The deals were made through Mid-Atlantic Propco LLC.

AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Co., is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world.

The new owner did not respond to an inquiry about the purchases.

The sale of The National capped a legal battle in which the two managers of the venue were sued last October for alleged mismanagement. James River Entertainment LLC, a minority owner, sued on behalf of all investors in the venture.

James River Entertainment was a member of RIC Cap Venture, which owned the real estate associated with The National, and RIC Concerts, which operated it.

The suit, which was dismissed with the sale, claimed that J. Scott Benton of Suffolk and A. William Reid of Virginia Beach, managers of the controlling companies, concealed revenue from ticket sales, produced and provided false and fraudulent information and failed to pay payroll and other taxes. It also claimed they paid exorbitant personal compensation.

“We ultimately agreed to a redemption of the James River Entertainment interest, because it represented a proper liquidity event in the range we had insisted,” James C. Cosby of the Vandeventer Black law firm, the attorney for James River Entertainment, said Tuesday.

The redemption allowed the sale to be completed, and there was no further need to maintain the lawsuit, Cosby said.

James River Entertainment owned a 26 percent membership interest in RIC Cap Ventures and a 25 percent interest in RIC Concerts.

Benton and Reid also were part owners of The NorVa. They could not be reached for comment. Their attorney, Todd Fiorella from Norfolk, also declined comment.

The Richmond venue opened as the National Theater in 1923 for vaudeville, live music and silent moves shown on the big screen.

Changing hands five times since 1960, The National was purchased by the Richmond Theatre Foundation for $1.6 million in 2006, renovated and reopened in 2008. It averages 180 shows a year, according to its website.

The National and The NorVa have attracted a variety of musicians over the years. The National can hold 1,500 people while The NorVa has a capacity of 1,450, according to their websites.

AEG Live operates or books 35 venues ranging from clubs to theaters. Its current and recent concert tour roster includes artists such as Taylor Swift, the Black Eyed Peas, Bon Jovi, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Justin Bieber, Leonard Cohen, Wisin & Yandel, Kenny Chesney, P!nk and Paul McCartney.

AEG owns or operates more than 100 entertainment facilities around the world including the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Best Buy Theater in New York’s Times Square and the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

chazard@timesdispatch.com

(804) 775-8023

Staff writer Jacob Geiger conributed to this report.

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