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Cleveland Rock icon the Agora's future is in flux
Owner offers the building to Cleveland schools

Vivian Goodman
The Agora on Euclid Avenue was once the nation's premier rock club. But it has trouble these days competing for the big acts.
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The owner of the Cleveland Agora wants to donate it to the Cleveland schools and make the landmark in rock and roll history the new home of the Cleveland School of the Arts. But Hank Lo Conti fears it's an offer the district will refuse.

Lo Conti created the Agora in 1966, near Case Western Reserve University. In 1967 he moved it near Cleveland State, but after a fire in 1984 the legendary venue moved to 5000 Euclid Avenue.

A wide range of acts including David Bowie and Kiss played the Agora, and Bruce Springsteen broke his "Born to Run" at the historic venue. Lo Conti used to book up to 75 shows a year but says he can't compete now with the House of Blues and Live Nation to get the big acts.

He's looking for a smaller location and has offered his building to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The Cleveland School of the Arts building at University Circle is dilapidated and the district plans to rebuild or move. But Lo Conti says the district doesn't seem too interested in the Agora and will likely rebuild at University Circle. He maintains that's largely because of unfounded fears about safety at the 50th and Euclid location.

Lo Conti says if the school system won't accept the building, he'll keep his business there.

Hank Lo Conti talks about the history of the Agora

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In the 1930's the building was the Cleveland home of the Metropolitan Opera. Billboard magazine once voted the Agora the No. 1 rock club in the country.

Listener Comments:

Not trying to correct you further dave ha...but the article only stated they graced the stage,not played..which they did stop for an interview the same year they played for whk radio :)

Posted by: carla L. (cleveland) on November 22, 2010 8:11AM
Love the Agora! Always a great place to see shows and I wish Hank Lo Conti good luck in keeping the Cleveland legend alive. But I must add a correction. The Beatles only played Cleveland twice and not in that venue. September 15, 1964 was at Public Hall and August 14, 1966 in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. In 1965 the Fabs were banned from the Home of Rock'n Roll.
Keep Rockin'!
Dave Schwensen
Author of "The Beatles In Cleveland."

Posted by: Dave Schwensen (Vermilion) on February 14, 2010 12:04AM
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