Promoter Wants Shot At Revived Palace

A concert promoter in St. Paul, Minn., is questioning the city’s selection of another group to manage the long-shuttered Palace Theatre that is up for around $13 million in public funds for renovations. 

Photo: Nate Ryan / MPR)

Billy O’Rourke would like to bring Cancun-style entertainment to the city and reportedly submitted a 28-page proposal to officials that included plans for a laser light show, bottle service, an LED screen and a lift stage floor in the venue. But the city’s already named the management group behind First Avenue, which would work with Jam Productions to book shows at the revamped Palace, as its likely selection, according to the Pioneer Press.

Joe Spencer, who oversees arts and culture for the mayor of the city, told the paper “there is no state or local requirement to do a request for proposals for a project like this. The best path, to get the best possible deal for the city, was to go to the best possible partners.”

He added that First Avenue is the “largest local promoter in the market” and Jam the largest independent regional promoter.

O’Rourke wasn’t pleased to hear the news.

“If it’s public money, it should be up for public bid,” he told the Press. The Palace isn’t a public building, however. The building is owned by a local real estate firm that might have some influence in the selection of a management group for the property.

The mayor’s office announced plans to reopen the historic Palace last year as a 3,000-capacity concert hall and lawmakers awarded $5 million in state bond funds to the project earlier this year, the paper reported.

The city is also expected to vote on an additional $8 million for the project as part of a 2015 budget proposal. If funds are approved, the building is on track to reopen in 2016.