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Fort Collins Entertainment takes over Aggie Theatre

Editor’s Note: Dani Grant, the new owner of the Aggie Theatre and owner of The Mishawaka Amphitheatre sits on the board of directors for Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation, the parent company of The Collegian. She has no part in making editorial decisions for The Collegian, which is student-run. 

Partners of five years, The Mishawaka amphitheatre and Z2 Entertainment have set another milestone in their relationship their ownership of the Aggie Theatre.

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March 1, known as the day Blueface came to the Aggie, was also the day that Fort Collins Entertainment officially took it over. The previous owners, Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, still have about 20 shows left on the calendar before transferring ownership.

“We’re still getting our feet under us in terms of operation,” Dani Grant, owner of The Mishawaka, said. “Both companies, Z2 Entertainment and The Mishawaka, have been looking at the Aggie for quite some time because it’s an incredible opportunity in Fort Collins.”

When Grant and her husband were looking to expand their experience in the world of music entertainment, they were inspired by the connection they had to the theatre and were motivated by having a partner like Z2 Entertainment by their side.

“They’re a really good, strong, independent business in Colorado,” Grant said. “As another independent operator, it made a lot of sense for us to book together. It was a strategic move for our companies and our relationships with agents and managers.”

“We want to build The Aggie into a must-play venue for artists and the go-to venue for live entertainment in their hometown.” – Cheryl Liguori, CEO of z2 entertainment

Z2 Entertainment is based out of Boulder and oversees Fox Theatre, Boulder Theatre and Chautauqua. The Mishawaka will organize day-to-day operations while Z2 will be in charge of booking entertainment for the theatre.

“Z2 has been interested in the Fort Collins market for almost 10 years,” said Cheryl Liguori, CEO of Z2 Entertainment. “It is a music-loving community. It would be an easy second stop for bands we book in Boulder to play a show in Fort Collins.”

After gaining ownership of the Aggie, a common goal that both Ligouri and Grant shared was to give the theatre a deep clean and renovation.

“We’d like to build on the production quality with a new lighting rig, stage curtains and band room renovation,” Liguori said. A good cleaning of the public areas as well, including new flooring. We’ve heard a lot about sticky floors and we’d like to change that for sure.”

In addition to improving the theatre’s equipment and visual aesthetic, there is also a goal of making it a safer space for everyone. Grant says that venues need to be safe places for women and underaged kids to come and enjoy music and not feel threatened or intimidated in any way. She also wants to bring in security guards trained for CPR or live shooter situations.

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Music wise, Z2 Entertainment and The Mishawaka are looking to expand the venue’s reputation.

“Joe, who is the talent buyer for The Fox, plans to build on what is already successful at The Aggie,” Liguori said. “Continuing to bring in local and national talent while also diversifying the calendar will engage students, and give them what they are looking for.”

Bri Long, a local promoter and part of the Z2 booking team, hopes to focus more on booking local talent. She says locals are the backbone to this music community, and they plan on shining as much light on that as possible.

“I think the talent we bring through will stand apart from previous years,” Long said. “I’m very involved in the community and try to listen to what people want to see, so I hope to use that to better our bookings, draw new people in and also keep our seasoned customers coming back.”

Grant is advocating for more local involvement as well, hoping to include country and indie genres in an effort to maintain a strong college theme. She is looking forward to collaborating more with KCSU.

Liguori hopes that everyone, students, locals and venue patrons alike will be affected in a positive way.

“It may take a minute, but we hope by the fall, people will be really pleased with the changes and come to the Aggie more often,” she said. “We want to build The Aggie into a must-play venue for artists and the go-to venue for live entertainment in their hometown.”

Lyra Wiley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @lyra_wiley

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