Local Current Blog

Inside the Armory: Minneapolis’s newest concert venue gets ready for Nomadic Live megastar shows

Photos by Jay Gabler/MPR

We’ve been hearing for years that it’s really going to happen. That old armory in downtown Minneapolis, it’s going to be an event space. It’s going to be so cool. Look at these renderings! They’re building a new football stadium, now it will happen for sure. The Super Bowl is coming, so now it has to happen. Right?

Right. It’s finally happened: the 83-year-old Minneapolis Armory has been renovated as an event space, and this isn’t your grandparents’ Armory. It’s not your parents’ Armory either, even if they met there at a Police concert in 1980. The local owners have partnered with the Nomadic group to trick the Armory out for a star-studded series of shows coinciding with this weekend’s Super Bowl — just across the Commons at U.S. Bank Stadium — and though Nomadic will take a lot of their gear with them when they head off to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII, a lot of the buildout will remain for upcoming concerts like an Aug. 6 date with Jack White.

Standing on the mezzanine as pyrotechnics boomed and sparks flashed onstage this morning, Nomadic president Jack Murphy promised that the venue sounds great, and that the extensive acoustic treatment will remain. Lasers flashed across the room, casting patterns against an elaborate sculpted armature that holds lights and…who knows what else will make its way up there by week’s end.

Murphy emphasized that the venue’s been designed to create a truly distinctive concert experience in a setting that’s indeed “intimate” for acts like Imagine Dragons and Pink, the week’s first performers (scheduled on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively). A catwalk extends out into the center of the main floor. The venue will ultimately have a total capacity of 8,400, including VIP seating along two levels of mezzanine running along the walls of the vaulted concave roof.

Getting drinks doesn’t look likely to be a problem: as promised in the renderings, bars run along both walls of the main floor, with fancier underlit marble treatments for the VIP bars. The food and drink service that might end up being most appreciated, though, is actually in the basement of the venue. That’s where the entrance line will form, saving fans from huddling outside in the cold. About an hour before doors to the actual performance space open, the lower Armory will be open for attendees to pass security, queue up, and grab a bite or a tipple if they so desire. (During Nomadic’s events, there will also be sponsor-driven interactive activities.)

President of Nomadic Entertainment Group, Jack Murphy, talks about Nomadic Live.

Posted by Local Current on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What ever happened with the canceled Mystic Lake pop-up? Murphy declined to say much about that situation, which was both tactful and perhaps legally advisable given that his company has just sued the casino for breach of contract. Instead, he emphasized that Nomadic is “laser-focused” on creating the best possible experience for attendees this week. He addressed another potential hot button without even being asked about it: the high ticket prices. That’s what it takes, Murphy suggested, to make this kind of experience available to the general public — noting that many of this week’s big events at other venues will be purely private.

However the Armory turns out to be as a concert venue, one thing’s for sure. As a camera operator observed setting up for a TV newscast, “It’s not a parking garage any more!”