Monqui, Anschutz Entertainment to Build Music Venue in Lloyd Center

The pair enters a race with Live Nation and its local partners to build something new.

Lloyd Center gets little foot traffic these days. (Michael Raines)

Local music promoter Monqui Presents and global venue operator Anschutz Entertainment Group have agreed to build a 4,250-seat music venue in the Lloyd Center mall, joining a horse race against entertainment behemoth Live Nation Entertainment, which is pursuing a similar project on the Central Eastside.

Portland-based Monqui, founded in 1983, puts on shows at McMenamins Edgefield, the Doug Fir, and the Wonder Ballroom, among other spots. Anschutz Entertainment Group is owned by Phil Anschutz, a low-profile Colorado billionaire who made his money in oil, then branched out into sports and entertainment. He co-founded Major League Soccer and owns the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

“You have to have to have a major partner to do these things,” said Monqui founder Mike Quinn.

Monqui and AEG plan to put their venue in the old Nordstrom space at the west end of Lloyd Center, Quinn said in an interview. Live Nation signed a lease for the same space in 2018, but the project never came to fruition. Monqui and AEG plan to tear the building down to the basement and start fresh, Quinn said. They hope to open by mid-2026, he said. The pair has been pursuing a deal for six years.

Monqui’s announcement comes one week before Live Nation and its local partners, Beam Development and Colas Development Group, go before the Portland Bureau of Development Services for a land use hearing on July 10, where they plan to seek adjustments to the zoning code for their 3,500-seat venue at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge.

Live Nation and Beam want to move required parking for 32 bikes from the property and onto the public right of way, according to a notice about the hearing. Similarly, they seek to move two truck-loading spaces into the right of way. They also want to cut the “ecoroof area” to 2,100 feet from 14,617 feet.

Jonathan Malsin, co-founder of Beam Development, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on the status of the project.

Live Nation has faced opposition from other Portland venue operators and music promotors because of its size and business practices. In May, the U.S. Justice Department accused Live Nation of operating an illegal monopoly. The company, which represents artists, owns venues and sells tickets, used its market power to push smaller promoters out of cities where it operated, lock venues into ticketing contracts, and pressure artists to use its services, the DOJ charged in its lawsuit.

Live Nation, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., owns or controls 338 music venues worldwide, including the Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Bend, the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., and Lumen Field in Seattle. It manages 410 bands, from U2 to Pitbull. It promotes concerts and, in 2010, bought Ticketmaster, giving it end-to-end control of the live music business.

Jamie Dunphy, a volunteer with MusicPortland, a group that advocates for local artists and venues, says the Monqui-AEG project is more palatable because Monqui has a long track record in Portland.

“It checks all the boxes,” Dunphy said it an interview. “It keeps local interest, it keeps local control, and it will bring in the bigger shows that we’ve been missing.”

The Lloyd Center location is also better, Dunphy says. It has ample parking in the mall’s old garages, which are just off both Interstates 5 and 84, and is close to bus and MAX lines.

Unlike the Live Nation project, Monqui’s is being built on private property. Live Nation plans to build on land owned by Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency.

As part of a 20-year plan, Prosper bought three square blocks in the Central Eastside from the Oregon Department of Transportation, which had declared it “surplus.” Prosper asked for proposals in late 2017. Beam Development pitched a series of office buildings with industrial space that would bring more jobs to the area. In May 2018, Prosper picked Beam to lead the project, working with Colas.

Two years later, the pandemic hit. Two years after that, in 2022, Beam and Colas pivoted and said they would partner with Live Nation on a music venue instead.

Quinn says his project at Lloyd Center won’t need any zoning code changes.

“We like our site a lot, and it’s going to happen,” he said.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.