Minneapolis Armory could return as concert venue by 2016

Categories: Venue Spotlight
Screengrab via YouTube
Here's Aerosmith performing their Armageddon hit inside the Minneapolis Armory.
The Minneapolis Armory's crescent moon roof is impossible to miss in the eastern portion of the city's downtown. Aside from customers using the 110,000 square foot building as a parking facility, the eye-catching appeal of the nearly 80-year-old structure has gone largely underutilized over the past 40 years.

In 1998, Aerosmith filmed their putting-the-drama-in-melodramatic "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" video there, and Prince's grand performance-style "1999" video was captured in the space in 1982. Both hint at the potential for shows unfolding inside. Now, owner Doug Hoskin is working to put the plan in motion for a venue that could hold over 6,000 people.

Two years ago, Hoskin unveiled a renovation plan that would turn the Armory into an event space that resembles its glories between the late 1930s through the 1970s. Concerts, boxing matches, political functions and even the old NBA team -- pre-L.A. -- the Minneapolis Lakers played there.

With the new Minnesota Vikings stadium moving forward, Hoskin is looking to dust off the old concrete bleachers where an orchestra once sat to accompany Aerosmith, and add kitchen facilities, more seating, and concessions. Additionally, the building needs a new roof, new doors, new seating, and new windows, and an upgraded sound and light system to be able to host concerts. It would cost an estimated $22-$24 million, and ideally would open around the same time as the new stadium, only a couple blocks away.

In the next month or so, Hoskin is expected to file applications to begin work on the structure. The National Park Service has to approve of the plans because the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Update: According to the Star Tribune, the project could be complete by next May.

Here is a rendering of what it could look like inside via Shea Inc., the architect for the project.


Prince is notoriously stingy about allowing his music videos to hang around online. Here are some details and screenshots. (Google the "1999" video, and you might find something.) Aerosmith, on the other hand, aren't in any kind of mood for holding back. The amount of over-the-top spectacle in this video -- mashed with shots of Steven Tyler's daughter Liv in the blockbuster Armageddon -- suggests that there was some sort of dust storm unleashed while they were filming. It might take another to get this place up and running.

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Lonesome Ron
Lonesome Ron

That would be great. I remember going there many times and seeing great bands, Shanana and others !!! Even performed there a few times as well!!

Kevin Stramer
Kevin Stramer

I was also at that show Jim. Loved XTC. Was a little bored by the Police. Also remember that it was the first time I heard Talkingheads, Remain in Light, which they played between bands. Went and got the vinyl the next day.

swmnguy topcommenter

I'd love to see this happen.  To do full-scale events, they need to have decent loading access, accessible rigging positions in the ceiling, good power, and adequate HVAC.  The new roof would be a given.  This town needs another good, workable venue.

Jim Bjerke
Jim Bjerke

Saw XTC open up for The Police there many moons ago.

Shorty Aka-Jon The-Baptist
Shorty Aka-Jon The-Baptist

That's pretty funny... I've performed there a bunch of times. About time to make a legitimate venue of it ;)

Kate Hoffman
Kate Hoffman

I drive by the Armory every day and think "man, that place is too cool for a parking garage." I'd love to see this happen!

Ed Ackerson
Ed Ackerson

This is a long-overdue project in my opinion.

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