Photo courtesy Fine Line Music Cafe’s Facebook page

First Avenue buys Fine Line Music Café

Updated: October 3, 2018 – 12:03 pm

Operators behind downtown’s legendary venue say this means more music for Minneapolis

First Avenue will add the Fine Line Music Café to its roster of Twin Cities venues at the beginning of October.

The ownership group behind one of the city’s longest-running live music venues recently announced that it has purchased the Fine Line, a Warehouse District venue where it has promoted concerts for nearly two decades.

“We’re incredibly excited to add the Fine Line to the First Avenue family, and really — more importantly — to keep this local venue independently owned and operated,” said First Avenue owner Dayna Frank in a statement.

At a capacity of 650 people, the Fine Line fills a gap for a mid-sized venue in the group’s roster, which includes the 1,550-person mainroom and the 250-capacity 7th St Entry in Minneapolis and the 350-capacity Turf Club and 2,400-capacity Palace Theatre in St. Paul.

Nate Kranz, First Avenue’s general manager, said filling the need for a mid-range venue will allow the company to foster artists throughout their careers as they build audiences from small venues to large theaters. Without a venue between the two, he said, some artists who are ready for the next move get stuck.

“We’re in the business of developing artists across all the different stages of their career,” he said. “(The Fine Line) just fits in our business model so well.”

The company isn’t planning any major changes to the venue any time soon. Kranz said they already have contracted concerts at the Fine Line well into next year, so even if they wanted to renovate, there isn’t any available time. First Avenue will consider “scaled improvements” in the meantime, he added.

Future bookings for the Fine Line will focus on live comedy, podcast events and dance parties in addition to concerts. Kranz said the purchase will mean the venue will be open roughly twice as much, adding more music and live events to downtown.

“I think it’s going to be great for downtown,” he said.

The purchase comes as First Avenue’s stages continue to grow. The company reopened the 102-year-old Palace Theatre last year after being vacant for 40 years. It’s also partnering with a development team that’s proposing a 10,000-capacity amphitheater as part of a nearly 50-acre redevelopment of a former shipping terminal in North Minneapolis.

The company also promotes events at venues across the state, including the three historic theaters on Hennepin Avenue, the Cedar Cultural Center and St. Paul’s Amsterdam Bar & Grill and Fitzgerald Theater.

The Fine Line opened in 1987 inside the 1907 Consortium building as a nightclub and music venue. It remains open for private events, which continue to be organized by Minneapolis Event Centers.