Local Current Blog

Minneapolis Armory may become a concert venue as soon as next year

Photo by Tom Weber/MPR

Will the Minneapolis Armory become the Twin Cities’ next large concert venue? Plans for exactly that to happen are moving forward. Vita.mn reports that the developers who own the downtown landmark are about to submit plans to repair its roof; those plans must be approved by the National Parks Service, since the armory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the developers’ best-case scenario, the venue could open to the public as soon as next summer.

“Live music will the primary feature,” Doug Hoskin of Armory Development II, LLC told Vita.mn. “Secondary will be athletics and [there] will also be a multitude of private events.” Plans to redevelop the historic venue have gained momentum since the decision to build a new Vikings stadium on the site of the Metrodome, just a couple blocks east of the armory.

Not much except for indoor parking has happened at the armory since the Almost Famous era, but from the late 1930s through the 1970s, the building played host to a motley range of events including concerts, conventions, and sporting events—including a brief stint as home court of the Minneapolis Lakers, the pro basketball team that later moved west and became the Los Angeles Lakers.

Completed in 1936 for use by the Minnesota National Guard, the Minneapolis Armory was the state’s most expensive single building to be constructed with a Public Works Administration grant. Though it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the building was put in danger of demolition when Hennepin County purchased it later that decade with plans to use the site for a new jail. After a lawsuit by the Minnesota Historical Society that resulted in a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that the building must be preserved, the armory moved into private hands and has largely served as an indoor parking facility since then.

Here’s how the renovated armory could look, as seen in renderings provided by Shea, the Minneapolis firm serving as designers on the project. Shea is responsible for numerous restaurant designs, including the recent reinvention of the Uptown Old Chicago as BoneYard.

Minneapolis Armory Rendering 2

Minneapolis Armory rendering

The armory is best-known to music fans as a shooting location for Prince’s “1999” video and Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” video.