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Mill City Nights is closing

Mill City Nights in 2012 (Photo by Carlos Gonzalez)

Mill City Nights in 2012 (Photo by Carlos Gonzalez) Dml - Star Tribune

So long, Mill City Nights.

The downtown Minneapolis music venue will close Nov. 30 after four years in business, reps from its owner, multinational concert giant Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), tell City Pages. 

"We have decided to wind down the operation toward the end of 2016," says Joe Litvag, senior vice president of AEG Live. "While not an easy decision to come to, we feel it’s the right business decision for us at this time." 

Litvag declined to offer specific reasons for the closing. 

“It doesn’t surprise me that [AEG is] pulling out of the market, we’ve had some issues with our rent, it’s very expensive, and it’s hard for us to keep our heads above water,” says general manager Chris Olson, who spent years running First Avenue and Triple Rock before joining Mill City Nights last year. “We’ve spent the last year trying to build it up, and I think we’ve made some great strides at turning this place around, so we’re very sad to call it quits.”

Olson says he learned the venue's fate earlier this week, and that employees -- eight full-timers, around 40 contract and part-timers -- were informed Tuesday. He says AEG, which also runs nearby Target Center, was supportive of his efforts to turn the venue around (new security, new staff, new bookings), but market realities prevailed. A new AEG-owned venue located elsewhere in the Twin Cities is a possibility, Olson reports. 

Mill City Nights experienced an inauspicious launch in 2012. The venue debuted as The Brick, and its first show -- a logistically disastrous performance from Jane's Addiction -- inspired a downsizing, remodeling, and rebranding effort four months later. Quaint basement sister venue The Nether Bar further showcased AEG's issues with naming things. 

"First impressions are everything in this business," Olson points out. "And they started with a horrible first impression with The Brick and the Jane's Addiction show. You're trying to dig yourself out of a hole -- at that point it's a canyon." 

With capacity around 1,200, Mill City Nights fit neatly between fellow downtown clubs First Avenue (1,600) and Fine Line Music Cafe (769). MCN carved out something of a niche catering to mid-level metal, pop-punk, and rap acts that might have had trouble booking shows elsewhere in the Twin Cities. The space was previously occupied by Christian music venue Club 3 Degrees. 

Click here to see the final list of shows scheduled for Mill City Nights, including frat-rap star Sammy Adams (Sept. 24), metalcore faves Hatebreed (Oct. 7), pop-punk giants Sum 41 (Oct. 22), and country upstart Kelsea Ballerini (Nov. 19). AEG will work to reschedule events planned for beyond Nov. 30.