Longstanding Spokane Venue Hopes to Reopen for Concerts

By Steve Jackson

A legendary Spokane live music venue is hoping to open it’s doors again after a several year hiatus. The new owner is hoping the public will help them out financially.
 
If you spent any time in Spokane in the late 1980’s or 1990’s the name Big Dipper should be familiar to you. The club was a center of the Spokane music scene for years before financial issues caused the former operator to shut down.
 
The Dipper has been available as a room rental off and on, but now the new operator hopes to make a go of the classic venue, located in Spokane at 2nd and Washington.

Dan Hoerner is a Spokane Native who had his time in the spotlight in the popular Seattle band Sunny Day Real estate. Now Dan is back in Spokane, where he signed a lease with an option to buy the Big Dipper. His new plans include featuring more diverse music, in addition to rock on the stage.

Hoerner: “I’d like to get classical on the stage, I want really cool eclectic things in here. I want theater, spoken word poetry, I want jazz, I want the whole nine yards.”

Hoerner plans call for the Dipper to be open by May first. But he has a major issue he needs to deal with. City code requires a sprinkler system in the Dipper of he intends to have more than 110 customers inside. Hoerner says that’s not enough capacity for the business to survive.

Hoerner: “You literally can’t afford to run this building, pay for it, have a business that attracts people in with 110 people. I put 110 people on my dance floor and fill about five rows back, and then the entire rest of the building is just about empty.”

Hoerner says if he can afford the expense of a sprinkler system, the city will allow him to let way more of a crowd in, like as many as four hundred. But there is a finance issue. The musician-turned club owner says he’s already invested about 50 thousand dollars in the Big Dipper for repairs. Because of complexity in upgrading the  pipe from the water main under second avenue, and to install a major sprinkler system, the cost will be another $50,000 dollars.

To get that financing, Hoerner is asking for public support. He has chosen the website IndieGoGo.com as a site where people can make donations to the cause. To Dan Hoener, it’s about the city’s music scene, but also about rejuvenating an important part of downtown Spokane:
 
Hoerner: “Second avenue is coming up, you see all the great work that is being done here with Lolo and Marcellas bridal, this whole area is coming up, you see these big red buildings , there’s tech people looking at turning those into vibrant centers again.”

Hoerner says they will open by May first even if they don’t have the money needed for the sprinkler system, but will be able to do the Sprinkler work even when they are open for business.
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