Concert giant Live Nation prepares to challenge First Avenue with Fillmore Minneapolis club
The Minneapolis Fillmore Theater will be part of a development including an Element by Westin Hotel near Target Field Station in the North Loop.
Due to open in the first quarter of 2020 within ball-lobbing distance of the Target Field Station commuter hub, the 2,000-person concert venue is modeled after legendary 1960s San Francisco rock forum the Fillmore West — including a large chandelier in the middle of the club.
A 156-room Element by Westin hotel is also part of the project, which is the fifth major development in the North Loop by United Properties, owned by the Pohlad family alongside the Twins.
A United Properties representative said the hotel is on target for completion by this fall: “Windows and brick on the exterior are being installed, and interiors will be starting soon,” said spokeswoman Sheila Thelemann.
As for the rock ’n’ roll side of the property, the involvement of Los Angeles-based giant Live Nation — the world’s largest concert promoter — promises to shake up the Twin Cities music scene.
The Minneapolis Fillmore gives Live Nation a midsize, general-admission venue to compete against First Avenue’s original main room in Minneapolis (1,500 capacity) and the First Avenue-managed Palace Theatre in St. Paul (2,500).
The 36,000-square-foot Fillmore will be the third Minneapolis music venue managed by Live Nation, which helped lead the 2018 reopenings of the Armory (8,000 capacity) and Varsity Theater (960).
Live Nation representatives confirmed the spring 2020 target date but said it’s too early to comment further on the venue, which will be the eighth in the nation to bear the reborn Fillmore brand.
The locally owned First Avenue team is not sitting idly by. The Minneapolis City Council gave a green light Friday to a new 7,000-10,000-person amphitheater that First Avenue will manage in north Minneapolis, part of the Upper Harbor Terminal riverfront redevelopment.
That’s in addition to the First Ave team’s purchase of the Fitzgerald Theater (1,050) in St. Paul — a sale due to close Thursday — plus last year’s acquisition of the Fine Line Music Café (800) and its 2013 purchase of the Turf Club in St. Paul (350).
Some rather ironic local trivia: Before First Avenue’s main room opened in 1970 in a former Greyhound bus depot, there was loose talk with original Fillmore owner Bill Graham about launching a “Fillmore Midwest” there.
Since Live Nation took over Graham’s Fillmore West in 2007, the company has opened Fillmores in Detroit, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C. and — two weeks ago — at Harrah’s Casino in downtown New Orleans.
Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster and generates about $10 billion in revenue per year, runs about 75 concert venues around the nation, including the House of Blues chain and numerous other midsize theaters and clubs.
The company promotes many arena and stadium concerts in the Twin Cities, and also took over booking duties this year for the Basilica Block Party.
In a VenuesNow.com interview last year trumpeting the Minneapolis Fillmore, the president of Live Nation’s club and theater division, Ron Bension, pointed to “a fairly dramatic growth and a clear commitment on the part of Live Nation” to venues of that size. His division has more than doubled in the past decade.
The Minneapolis club will be on the small end compared with the other Fillmores, most of which have a capacity of 2,200 to 3,500.