Minneapolis Varsity Theater Reopening With Live Nation

The 950-capacity Varsity Theater in Minneapolis is reopening in February under Live Nation management after being sold last year to Hong Kong-based real estate private equity firm GAW Capital Partners. 

The first show after the reopening is rapper PnB Rock Feb. 15, with other shows including Trevor Hall Feb. 21, New Politics Feb. 22, The Oh Hellos March 8, and Andrew McMahon April 13 which is already sold out according to the venue.

“We’re incredibly excited about the Minneapolis music scene and the role Varsity Theater will have in growing it as part of the Live Nation family,” said Josh Lacey, Live Nation talent buyer. “This venue has a unique history as a development room, having hosted a number of breakout artists over the years.

“While the venue’s ambiance will stay intact, a number of upgrades are in progress. All in all the already great Varsity experience will be even better. We’re in the midst of curating as many great artists as possible and believe our kickoff shows are a great way to welcome back the Varsity.”

Varsity Theater Minneapolis
– Varsity Theater Minneapolis
Live Nation talent buyer Josh Lacey

Upgrades include HVAC systems, box office facilities and IT enhancements. A job fair is scheduled Jan. 13 at the venue, which looks to fill positions including bartenders, cocktail servers, stagehands, ticket sellers and security.

Varsity Theatre, in the city’s Dinkytown commercial district, didn’t host many shows in 2017 but had been busy in 2016 with artists including NF, Kaleo, Kane Brown, Judah & The Lion, Allen Stone, and many others. Other venues in the market offering a similar capacity include the Minneapolis Music Hall, at 1,300 and the 1,000-capacity Cabooze, while First Avenue is 1,550 capacity and Myth in Saint Paul is 3,300.  The 2,800-capacity Palace Theater in Saint Paul opened in March and hosted 52 shows in 2017, with 31 sellouts according to Jam Productions

Previous Varsity Theater owner Jason McLean in November was reportedly on the run after a judge entered a default judgment of $2.5 million against him following allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s and 80s when he was a music teacher and actor at a local children’s theatre group. He failed to show up for court hearings, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and an attorney representing the plaintiffs accusing him said he was in Baja telling real estate agents he’d pay cash for property.

He sold the Varsity Theater for $2.5 million according to public documents, as well as the Loring Pasta Bar he also operated.

Last year there were calls to boycott the venue, with some artists moving shows from the Varsity Theater.

A Live Nation representative told Pollstar, “We are moving forward and we are excited about the future of the Varsity Theater.”