Panic! at the Palladium

Prepare to get wrecked?
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  June 13, 2012


This past week, rumors flew that the Palladium, the stately concert hall in downtown Worcester, was due for imminent demolition. The news broke on June 7 at Worcester Mag, where Palladium owner John Fischer was quoted discussing razing the venue and turning the site into a parking lot for a new courthouse across the street. "It has a lot to do with taxes," Fischer told the Mag, before ending on an ominous note: "We're still debating what we're going to do."

The Palladium has long been a mecca for metal tours too big for clubs but too small for arenas. The venue has also hosted the New England Hardcore and Metal Festival since its inception in 1999, growing it into a three-night orgy of blown eardrums.

But don't panic just yet. On Monday, after a weekend of frantic speculation and petition-creating by metal fans all over, we got in touch with John Peters, owner of Mass Concerts, which organizes Metal Fest. He told us that, for at least the time being, there will be no wrecking balls in the Palladium's future: "As long as we're there, the building's not going anywhere."

According to Peters, the city recently reassessed the property's value, which resulted in the Palladium's taxes more than doubling. "Perhaps," Peters said, "the city bureaucrats thought, 'Oh, this place does heavy metal; let's raise taxes and maybe they'll go away.' But the fact is that we bring 150,000 people to this place each year, people that pay to park and eat at restaurants and whatever else. If we're closed on a weekend night, the place seems kind of dead."

Peters also detailed the economic infeasibility of demolishing the building: "For 50 parking spots, it's a lot of work and cost. . . . [Fischer would] never evict us to turn the Palladium into a parking lot."

The burden now rests on Peters and his crew to absorb the tax costs while the owner appeals the reassessment. "Just like any business, we have to find a way, whether it's cut costs or pass them on," Peters said. "No one's getting rich off of the place, but we have our niche, and everyone's doing fine. We'll just have to buckle down and make ends meet."

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