First Avenue and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) have entered into an agreement for First Avenue to purchase the Fitzgerald Theater from MPR. First Avenue, one of the longest running, independently owned clubs in the U.S., is continuing to extend its reach across city lines.
“Our goal is to bring together people with diverse interests and backgrounds, and part of that is expanding the First Avenue family to include other venues throughout the Twin Cities,” said Dayna Frank, First Avenue owner. “We’re excited about the opportunities for more events and performances in another iconic space in this community.”
MPR has owned and operated the historic theater since 1980. “After commissioning a Historic Structures Report several years ago, we focused on what’s best for this amazing facility, the community, and how we can best serve our audiences throughout Minnesota,” said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO, Minnesota Public Radio. “We were excited to find that First Avenue leaders share our vision to serve many more people. We’re pleased the theater will be in good hands with First Avenue.”
The transition from MPR to First Avenue allows MPR to broaden its reach in hosting events across the Twin Cities and the state while giving First Avenue fans another option on the east side of town. “Saint Paul is becoming a destination for many musicians, just as Minneapolis has been,” said Frank. “We’re committed to helping to grow Saint Paul’s music scene as well.”
“As we aim to serve more Minnesotans, one of the ways we are doing that is by going to where our audiences are,” McTaggart said. “We’ll still host plenty of events in Saint Paul. In fact, we anticipate that MPR will continue to use the Fitz. Now, we will have even more flexibility with our events and performances.”
First Avenue’s commitment to the community made it an ideal purchaser for this space. “Our roots in the community are far-reaching and I think MPR felt good about selling to another organization that is committed to the community, to local music, and to expanding perspectives in the entertainment space,” Frank said.
The deal is not finalized, and details are not yet available.
First Avenue owns and operates the 250-capacity 7th St Entry, the 350-capacity Turf Club, the 650- capacity Fine Line, 1550-capacity First Avenue Mainroom, and co-operates the 2400-capacity Palace Theatre. Additionally, First Avenue promotes concerts and events at numerous venues in Minnesota, including but not limited to, Amsterdam Bar & Hall, The Cedar Cultural Center, The Historic State, Orpheum, and Pantages Theatres in Minneapolis, as well as Surly Brewing Festival Field.
First Avenue is celebrated as one of the longest-running, independently owned and operated clubs in the United States. Its commitment to independence is led by the belief that unique, locally-owned live music rooms are imperative to the health of the community and economy. First Avenue is dedicated to promoting artistic expression in voices old and new, to provide a community by offering artists a stage and a mic, and fans a place to gather.
As the musical epicenter of the Twin Cities, First Avenue—and by extension, the venues it owns and operates—opens its doors to all of the thousands of music lovers who are First Avenue's past, present, and future.