Music News

Here's Why The Pressroom Left Phoenix for Tempe (And Hasn’t Hosted Concerts Lately)

The exterior of The Pressroom in downtown Phoenix.
The exterior of The Pressroom in downtown Phoenix. Google Maps
Local music and events venue The Pressroom has had a tumultuous year as various issues caused the popular concert spot to close and leave its longtime home in downtown Phoenix, moving across the Valley to a new location in Tempe. It hasn’t hosted a concert in the months since the move due to unknown reasons, causing Valley promoters to reschedule or relocate shows booked at the venue.

Earlier this year, the Pressroom’s former location at Fourth Avenue and Madison Street was shut down by the Arizona Department of Health Services after a packed concert by rapper Polo G. on January 16 reportedly violated Covid-19 safety protocols.

Phoenix New Times has learned that Maricopa County, which purchased the 1,000-person capacity venue in October 2020 for $14 million, terminated the venue’s lease on January 21 due to the incident.

Jessie Caraveo, a spokesperson for the county, told New Times via email the Pressroom’s lease required “any events proposed to be held at the property were required to be fully compliant with all permitting authorities regarding Covid-19 mitigation plans.” The venue’s failure to do so with the Polo G. show resulted in the lease’s termination, Caraveo says.

The Pressroom, which is owned by local nightlife entrepreneur Narender Raju, operated at the property from 2014 onward. In September, the venue announced on social media it was moving to 3125 Studios & Event Venue, an indoor-outdoor event space, film production studio, and rehearsal space in Tempe. The new location hosted the latest edition of the Full Moon Festival arts, cultural, and music event on September 18. The Pressroom hasn't put on a regular concert since, though.

Multiple shows were booked at The Pressroom in September and October, all of which were eventually moved to other metro Phoenix venues.
click to enlarge Local musicians performing outside of The Pressroom's original location in downtown Phoenix. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Local musicians performing outside of The Pressroom's original location in downtown Phoenix.
Benjamin Leatherman
Michelle Donovan of Mantooth Group, which had a handful of concerts scheduled at The Pressroom, told New Times by email she wasn’t informed by its proprietors they’d lost their lease at their downtown Phoenix location until after the move to Tempe was announced.

“Their space [wasn’t] ready yet and they didn't tell promoters they were moving until they already had moved,” she says. “For example … I had [a gig by punk band Knocked Loose] there and they never told me.”

Donovan ultimately moved the concert to Tempe’s Marquee Theatre.

Another metro Phoenix concert promoter who had shows booked at The Pressroom told New Times on the condition of anonymity that they had a similar experience.

“They kind of surprised us with [news of the move] and didn't tell any of us. I found out a few days before they posted it online,” the local promoter says.

No information regarding The Pressroom’s operating status has been posted to its social media as of this writing. Calls and text messages to the venue’s management for comment have not been returned.

Only a handful of concerts are currently scheduled to take place at The Pressroom in the coming months, including a performance by metal band Jinjer on December 12 and hard rock act Deafheaven on February 22.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.