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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shriners' Lawsuit Fails in Theatre Renaming Case


Several years ago, the Murat Shrine Center in Indianapolis leased half of its incredible 1910 Middle Eastern-styled building and theatre to what is now Live Nation. The Murat Shriners negotiated a long lease deal that puts California-based event promoter Live Nation in charge of the theatre side of the building.



The Murat Theatre main auditorium.


Almost immediately, members were shocked as one of the first shows booked into the theatre was "The Vagina Chronicles." Freemasons all across Central Indiana were aghast.

Still, the name of Murat Shrine, formed in 1882, was still alive, and the theatre was still associated in the city's collective memory with Shriners.

Well, In March 2010, it was announced in the Indianapolis Star that Live Nation had struck a sponsorship deal with Old National Bank of Evansville, Indiana, and the Murat Theatre would thereafter be known as the Old National Center. Live Nation operates the 2,500-seat Murat Theatre, Egyptian room and other rooms within the building at 502 N. New Jersey St. under a long-term lease with MTA. Murat Shrine operates the rest of the building for its own offices, lounge/restaurant, meeting and event spaces.

A lawsuit followed as the Shrine attempted to stop the renaming of the theatre. Unfortunately, the lease contract gave LiveNation the right to erect new signage, and that's how they were able to convince the court they had every right in this case. Renaming wasn't prohibited by the lease, and what is not prohibited is allowed. Eventually, LiveNation has settled into referring to the venue as the Murat Theatre at Old National Center. Cumbersome, but a compromise. Still, the Shrine pushed forward with their suit.

Yesterday, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision that the Murat Shrine does not have the right to contest the renaming of the Temple's theatre by Live Nation and Old National Bank.

From the Indianapolis Business Journal, "Court affirms Murat Centre renaming decision":

The decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals, made public Tuesday morning, stems from a March 26 lawsuit brought by MTA. It attempted to block a three-year deal between the bank and Live Nation to rename the historic building the “Old National Centre.”

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley dismissed the suit in August, and MTA appealed.

“The plain language of the lease grants Live Nation the authority to sell naming rights to the leased premises and to post appropriate signs and advertising,” Senior Judge William Garrard wrote. “We conclude that there are no possible set of facts upon which MTA can recover against Live Nation for breach of contract.”


Indianapolis' Murat Shrine and Los Angeles' Al Malaikah Shrine duke it out regularly as to which is the largest Shrine in the world, in terms of membership.

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