Big names behind plan to revive the Met


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ONE month after city hall bailed out both the Pantages Playhouse and The Burt, it obviously makes no sense to revive The Metropolitan as a concert venue.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/10/2005 (6375 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ONE month after city hall bailed out both the Pantages Playhouse and The Burt, it obviously makes no sense to revive The Metropolitan as a concert venue.

That’s why two proposals to renovate the 85-year-old building, decaying on Donald Street since Famous Players fled for the ‘burbs in 1987, envision a new Met as a self-sustaining business that won’t go screaming for public funds every couple of years.

CentreVenture, the city’s downtown development agency, will soon approve a plan to convert The Met into one of several proposals.

One is a restaurant complex. A second, more ambitious plan involves the creation of a Canad Inns-run nightclub/performance venue that will subsidize a Canadian rock ‘n’ roll museum boasting multimedia exhibits inspired by facilities such as Seattle’s Experience Music Project and Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

To be frank, I don’t know jack about the restaurant idea. And I’m skeptical about the museum/nightclub concept, because big institutions cost big money to build and operate.

But the people behind the museum bid are among the most powerful in Winnipeg. More importantly, they have a proven track record of partnering private money with public projects, from the Tavern in the Park restaurant in Assiniboine Park to the completion of MTS Centre.

The big movers behind the museum idea include James Richardson and Sons president/CEO Hartley Richardson, Canad Inns boss Leo Ledohowski, CanWest Global honcho Leonard Asper, Manitoba Moose head Mark Chipman and Winnipeg Free Press co-owner Bob Silver, Richardson said yesterday in an interview.

Their plan, though still in its infancy, is to integrate a Canadian rock museum into a revenue-generating attraction that can sustain itself for years.

“You need a revenue stream so it doesn’t become something that has to be supported, at least not completely, by public funds,” says Richardson, who batted around the rock-museum idea with his peers after Toronto was awarded the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

“We thought, ‘What else we do? What are our options?’ And we came up with a made-in-Manitoba solution… a museum (of) Canadian rock.

“It’s a lot better to have it focused, especially in a way that’s appropriate for Winnipeg, home to so much great rock ‘n’ roll. This is a niche Winnipeg can claim on its own.”

The content of the new museum would cover rock, pop and urban music in all its varieties from every era of Canadian rock history, with room for new exhibits in the future.

Every region of Canada would be included, with a special focus on Winnipeg. Volunteer consultant John Einarson, the Winnipeg rock historian, has begun soliciting input from music experts in other parts of the country.

If this proposal wins CentreVenture’s blessing, number crunchers will see if the project can sustain itself. For now, the plan calls for expanding the Met and building an integrated museum/nightclub/lounge/restaurant/theatre under one roof, creating a tourist attraction that goes well beyond a Hard Rock Café.

“We’re not just going to throw some guitars on the wall of a restaurant,” says Richardson. “Will it work? I don’t know. But if it can be done, it’ll be good for the city.”

* * *

In local concert news, two more shows were announced yesterday: Bluesman B.B. King will stroke his beloved Lucille at Centennial Concert Hall on Dec. 8 ($85, $75 and $70 plus fees at Ticketmaster) and Alberta cowboy-poet Ian Tyson saunters into Pantages Playhouse on Jan. 18 ($39.50 plus fees at Ticketmaster, beginning Oct. 15).

As well, I messed up the on-sale date for country star Brad Paisley’s Jan. 22 date at MTS Centre. Tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster this Saturday.

Finally, tickets to see electronic artist Caribou at the Pyramid on Dec. 7 have been pegged at $19.

* * *

After a disastrous show in Calgary last fall, it looked as if the Western Canadian Music Awards might be on their last legs.

But the third edition of the regional awards show, slated for Vancouver on Oct. 23, has landed a couple of big-name performers: Alberta country star Corb Lund, Vancouver electronic project Jakalope and what amounts a Winnipeg Juno-performance reunion of Randy Bachman, The Waking Eyes and Nathan.

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