May 18, 2023
The Philly Pops' future as a performance group has been up in the air for most of 2023. The music ensemble has had multiple shows postponed and was evicted from the Kimmel Center.
In April, the Pops filed an antitrust lawsuit claiming the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, known as POKC, used tactics intended to force the company out of business and create a monopoly in the city. On Wednesday, the orchestra amended its lawsuit in hopes it can begin playing shows again at Verizon Hall.
In the amended lawsuit, the Pops seek to reschedule their postponed shows at Verizon Hall and guarantee their Christmas programs can be performed there, too.
The orchestra is also asking for full access to Ticket Philadelphia, the online ticket marketplace, so it can sell and distribute tickets again. The lawsuit claims the Pops have not had full access since January.
And the Pops want to recoup damages for POKC's alleged interference into their business, specifically their ability to sell tickets.
"This filing represents another step in our lengthy effort to negotiate a path forward for the Philly Pops," said Karen Corbin, Philly Pops president and CEO. "From the beginning of its new structure, the Philadelphia Orchestra's and Kimmel Center's actions seem to have been focused on one goal: eliminating competition by forcing the Philly Pops out of business. The Philly Pops has a bright future. All we want to do is continue what we do best – playing popular music for the community we love by presenting the concerts we have announced and planned for our patrons."
The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, which merged into one company in 2021, called the Philly Pops' claims meritless.
"We are disappointed that the current leadership of the Philly Pops continues to pursue meritless claims in court instead of sending us a plan that addresses the more than $1,000,000 the Pops owes the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. for past rent, labor costs, and other services," a spokesperson said in an email.
In the original lawsuit, the Pops claimed the POKC partnership was designed to create a monopoly in the city, alleging they increased fees for the Philly Pops' performances at Verizon Hall, slowed the production and sale of seasonal tickets, and proposed the Pops end their run after the 2022-2023 season.
After the Pops announced it would cease operations after the current season, the orchestra changed course. It launched a fundraising campaign and agreed to a new contract that does not expire until August 2024. But after failing to reach a payment deadline with POKC for $520,000, the Pops were evicted from operating at the Kimmel Center in January.
The group attempted to relocate some of its shows to the Met in February. However, those shows were postponed as the orchestral ensemble worked to implement a sustainable financial model.