Taking a time out

Playmakers sports bar, nightclub, and concert venue is closing its doors next month to re-open as something else yet to be announced. After 16 years in business, the facility will be open for the last time as Playmakers on Nov. 3. "Playmakers is ...

Graphic: History

Playmakers sports bar, nightclub, and concert venue is closing its doors next month to re-open as something else yet to be announced.

After 16 years in business, the facility will be open for the last time as Playmakers on Nov. 3.

"Playmakers is going to die as we know it," said Travis Toliver, Playmakers Entertainment Complex marketing and public relations director. "What's going to happen next is just going to be beyond belief."

Some hints to the identity of Playmakers' rebirth may be given out at the Nov. 3 closing party.

Toliver could not say how long the facility will be closed before it reopens.


He said the change does not involve a change in ownership.

House of Rock closed a couple weekends ago and the acts that were scheduled there were moved into The Venue, Toliver said. The House of Rock backdoor now proclaims in large, bold letters, "Top Secret."

According to Fargo city records, Playmakers will be remodeled in phases, the first of which is the House of Rock area.

The top page of the building plans is also marked "Top Secret."

Playmakers opened as a sports bar and Pavilion in 1991 and has gone through several modifications.

Most recently, Playmakers remodeled the Pavilion into The Venue, a multi-million dollar concert space, a year ago and has attracted concerts and events such as Billy Idol, The Black Crows and Nickelback.

"It's just really become a great landmark for nightlife in the Fargo-Moorhead area," Toliver said.

Over the past three years, nearly $6 million has been spent renovating Playmakers, according to a previous Forum news story.


The entertainment complex also added the Skybox Lounge in summer 2006. The lounge is a smaller, couch-filled nook that includes two big screens, a custom pool table and a private bar.

The House of Rock nightclub opened in October 2004 to host a variety of live entertainment from rock to country, hip-hop and pop.

Renelli's Pizza opened in the facility in April 2004 and Bottle Barn liquor store opened in the southeast portion of the complex in December 2003.

Renelli's Pizza and Bottle Barn are not closing as part of the change, Toliver said.

"It's been a successful run and we can't wait to see what happens next," Toliver said.

This summer, The Venue ranked 89th for the most ticket sales worldwide by Pollstar, a concert touring publication.

Sports Illustrated named Playmakers one of the top 25 sports bars in the America in February 2005.

"Any live venue is important to local bands and (Playmakers is) one of the classier ones," said Gary Bitzer, owner of Bitzer Talent booking agency.


Bitzer has been booking bands at Playmakers for a long time and said the nightclub industry is a tough business to be in right now.

"If they're changing anything it's to try to make it better and to stay afloat," Bitzer said. "You have to be very creative in today's market and offer something that people want to go to."

Performing in Playmakers opens doors for local bands to play in other areas, Bitzer said.

"Playmakers has been around a long time and has used a lot of local bands and provided a lot of work," Bitzer said.

Playmakers is also known for putting on unusual events like "Night of the Gladiators," which involved boxing matches and mixed martial arts sessions, and "Naked Sushi Night," during which sushi rolls were served from two nearly nude models.

The facility ranges between 85 percent to 95 percent occupancy almost every evening, Toliver said, adding that during concerts it is always at capacity.

"It's going to affect the entire region," Toliver said. "Playmakers is such a nightlife destination in the Valley. People from Grand Forks like to come down here for the concerts and people from the surrounding areas as well."

"It's going to be missed by all people who go there on a regular basis," Bitzer said. "I think they'll remodel, try out a new idea, if you will, a new way of running things out there and trust me, it's going to be to go after bigger and better things or they wouldn't be doing it."


Playmakers has hired a national entertainment consultant to take the property to the next level, Toliver said. The project has been in the works for almost a year, he said.

If you go

- What: Playmakers R.I.P. closing weekend events

- When: Wednesday through Nov. 3. A memorial service will follow the Bright Eyes all-ages concert Nov. 3.

- Info: (701) 232-6767,

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

Taking a time out Tracy Frank 20071026


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