MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The general manager of the landmark Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue expressed optimism about reopening soon even as building inspectors worked Thursday to determine why part of the ceiling collapsed during a show, injuring three people.
A 20-by-30 foot section of the ceiling fell around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday during a concert by the Canadian band Theory of a Deadman. Three people were treated at Hennepin County Medical Center for injuries that were not life-threatening.
"Thankfully, it could have been a lot worse," General Manger Nathan Kranz said.
First Avenue has hosted some of the biggest names in music over more than four decades including Joe Cocker, U2, Tina Turner, Eminem, The Ramones and Metallica. Prince filmed much of his 1984 movie "Purple Rain" there.
City building inspectors were on the scene Thursday, meeting with the owner's structural engineer to evaluate the facility and determine the cause, city spokesman Matt Lindstrom said.
"All of the damage is contained to the performance area of the club and the restaurant will be allowed to reopen once the fire sprinkler system can be restored," Lindstrom said. "After all necessary repairs and inspections are completed to the performance area, First Avenue will be allowed to reopen."
Fortunately, Kranz said, the damage appeared to be limited to the drop ceiling of the former bus depot, which opened in 1937.
Engineers still weren't sure Thursday why it came down other than its age, he said, but there was no apparent structural damage to the roof or the rest of the building. He said he's hopeful the main room can reopen within a week or two assuming they don't find any more damage. Two smaller venues within the club could reopen as soon as Saturday, he said.
"So we're in the process of cleaning up, moving stuff around and then we'll tear out the remainder of the drop ceiling. ... Now that one section has come down we don't trust any of it," he said.
Kranz said the plan is to leave the exposed ceiling area bare, at least for the short term, and he predicted most patrons won't even notice.
Hennepin County Medical Center spokeswoman Christine Hill said the three people were in satisfactory condition late Wednesday but she didn't have updated conditions or further information on their injuries Thursday.
City building inspector Patrick Higgins said there are no records of any problems with the structure before. Fire inspector Kris Johnson said the building is on a five-year inspection cycle, but that normal inspections wouldn't have caught any structural problems with the ceiling unless they spotted something obvious like sagging.