Vote Passes On Hennepin Theatres

The Minneapolis City Council voted 9-2 April 15th to give an entity that includes Clear Channel Entertainment management duties for three city-owned theatres on Hennepin Ave. – The State Theatre, The Orpheum Theatre and Pantages Theatre.

The vote ends a year of controversy, with critics worried about handing operations of the city landmarks over to the joint venture because it includes the out-of-state company.

Under the 30-year agreement, CCE et al will assume $22 million in debt and is responsible for refurbishment, according to Minneapolis’ Star Tribune.

The non-profit Hennepin Theatre Trust has a 30-year lease on the venues. If the organization provides a $10 million endowment and $1.5 million in theatre improvements, the city will eventually give the trust the keys to the properties, The Business Journal said.

The trust is one-third of the joint venture that landed the contract; CCE as facility manager and the Historic Theater Group, a for-profit company that has long run the theatres, comprise the rest.

The deal gives CCE long-term access to the third largest theatre market in the country, to which it will be able to bring traveling Broadway shows.

Bringing CCE into the mix rankled a couple of city council members and had been a point of contention in local op-ed pieces.

“It’s a little bit sad to me that we will be seen as the group that sold these out to the multinationals,” Council Member Dean Zimmermann said during his dissenting vote, according to the Tribune. City Council President Paul Ostrow also voted no.

However, most of the council was “effusive” in its praise for the deal, the paper said.

“We will look back on this decision with incredible pride, I promise you that,” Council Member Lisa Goodman reportedly told her colleagues. “This action will preserve these assets into the future for … generations.”

Other bids were submitted by the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul (which reportedly proposed a metrowide nonprofit to run the theatres) and TheatreDreams of Chicago.