ST. CLOUD -- The Pioneer Place Theater in downtown St. Cloud will be undergoing a major remodel this summer.

Co-owner Ray Herrington says all of the seats in the main theater will be replaced, and they'll be adding some seating.

All the seats are going to get replaced, there's going to be balconies on each side that will hold nine people in each one for 18 more seats there, we're putting in a VIP area up there kind of a skybox that will hold about 12 people.  So we are going to increase seating.  Right now we're at 187 we'll get up to 211 by the time we're done remodeling.

Herrington says they'll also be pushing the stage back a few feet, which will allow them to add another row of seats.

He says another change will be removing the back service bar on the first floor and replacing it with a new bar area on the second floor.

We're going to put the big bar in upstairs so you'll be able to access that bar right from the theater.  You'll be able to walk up the stairs and go right into a bar area, so that will make flow a lot easier.  Eventually what we'd like to see happen is the traffic pattern change a little bit where people come right through the Veranda when they have theater tickets go right upstairs and access the theater from the upstairs.

Herrington says the new bar area should make for a better experience for people who are there to see a show, as well as keeping the bar in the Veranda Lounge less congested for people who are there just to sit in that area.

Herrington says they are also making new men's and women's bathrooms upstairs. So what does that mean for the most talked about urinal in town, "The King"?

It's an 800-pound piece of porcelain, which is actually much more fragile than people think because it's over 100 years old.  We're going to do everything we can to incorporate the King into the new bathrooms.  If we do have issues the King will be in the building somewhere, we plan on displaying it, but the plan is to make it a working urinal.

The upgrades also include a new heating and air conditioning system, a sprinkler system, and an elevator.  A ramp will also be installed along the side of the building leading up to the side door, which is near where the new elevator will be installed.

Pioneer Place Theater, photo by's Jim Maurice
Pioneer Place Theater, photo by's Jim Maurice

The theater will go totally black during construction from mid-June through mid-September. However, the Veranda Lounge will remain open during construction with live music four nights a week.

He says they'd also like to eventually expand the bar in the Veranda Lounge, but that wouldn't happen until later.

Herrington and his business partners Steve Letnes and Peter Poepping bought the building in August of last year.

It was built in 1913 as an Elks Club. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.

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