First Avenue, new downtown AEG venue prepare to compete [VIDEO]

First Avenue: Gearing up for battle with another deep-pocketed competitor.
First Avenue: Gearing up for battle with another deep-pocketed competitor.

Another downtown Minneapolis venue battle may be on the verge of heating up.

Yesterday, the Star Tribune reported that AEG Live will soon open a new concert space at the former site of Christian music venue Club 3 Degrees off N. 5th St. near Target Field. Also yesterday, First Avenue announced that the club is in the midst of a renovation project meant to "increase sightlines and capacity."

Remember when Quest fought a losing battle against First Avenue in the early 2000s? It looks like the iconic club has another deep-pocketed challenger on the horizon, with the renovations perhaps meant to get First Avenue in tip-top fighting shape.

AEG is the world's second largest live show promoter. The Strib reports that AEG's new downtown venue, which is slated to be called the Brick, will hold about 2,000 concertgoers, putting its capacity between First Avenue's (1,500 before renovations) and Epic (2,400).

The Brick news broke when veteran rockers Jane's Addiction (they're still around?!) announced that they're slated to gig in Brick on March 19.

Jeff Kehr, Brick's general manager, told MPR that the club, like First Avenue, will feature a two-tiered concert space and a lower-level bar.

"Our goal will be to welcome all genres of music and all audiences to experience this versatile facility," Kehr says. "The venue itself will lend itself well to all types of touring artists, from rock, country and pop to R&B, jazz, comedy and more."

Some commenters on the Strib's art blog questioned the need for another mid-sized venue in downtown Minneapolis.

One said:

A bit of a surprise, because there doesn't seem to be a need for this venue... It seems like so many shows are held at First Avenue, Fine Line, Varsity Theater, along with the State Theater and Orpheum... that there doesn't seem to be demand for this venue.

Meanwhile, First Avenue is removing some lower-level stairs and repositioning a bar to open up sightlines and allow for greater capacity. Here's the full scoop:

First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz told the Strib he's concerned about having "such a deep-pocketed competitor," but, alluding to the club's trouncing of Quest a decade ago, added that he thinks First Avenue will be fine.

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