The Agora Theatre and Ballroom is Cleveland's musical landmark and has supported local bands and national acts since Henry J. LoConti and partners opened its first location at 2175 Cornell Rd. near Case Western Reserve University on February 27, 1966. Since then, the Agora has hosted a variety of artists, many of whom got their first break here, and put Cleveland in the forefront of the world music scene.
History of The Agora Theater:
In 1967, the Agora moved to its second location on E 24th St. Upstairs, the Agora housed Agency Recording, which broadcast live studio performances every Monday night. In 1968, the Agora booked their first national act, the Buckinghams, and, after opening a second venue in Columbus in 1970, Agora Promotions expanded into a chain of twelve 1000-seat venues throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
The Agora in the 70s:
Cleveland Radio Station, WMMS, sponsored concerts that would air on Wednesday nights throughout the 1970s. At the same time, the venue welcomed many first-time tours, featuring artists such as Peter Frampton, the Charlie Daniels Band, and Bad Company. In the early 1970s the Agora was Ohio’s foremost concert venue. Rainbow Canyon, The Outlaws, ZZ Top and many other bands got their big break playing the Agora.
The Agora started The New World of Jazz in 1975, a radio program airing across the U.S., Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.
In 1978, the world-wide syndicated television program Onstage at the Agora aired live performances from the Agora stage. By the end of the 1970s, disco became popular, WMMS changed its format, and the Agora closed after a fire in October 1984. In 1985, the namesake opened at its current location in the WHK Auditorium and Metropolitan Theatre at 5000 Euclid Ave.
Attending a Concert at the Agora Theater:
The Agora is actually two venues in one: the smaller and more intimate Ballroom, which seats about 700, and the Theatre. With a capacity of approximately 2000, the Agora Theatre lives up to its name with inclined, stadium-style seating, augmented by a "pit" in front of the stage and spacious upper boxes. Limited concessions are available at each performance.
Tickets to all Agora concerts and events are available at any Ticketmaster outlet or charge by phone with Ticketmaster at 216 241-5555 in Cleveland, 330 945-9400 in Akron, via the ticketmaster website, or at the Agora Theater box office. Box office hours are Monday- Friday 10am to 5pm. There is a $1 service charge per ticket and the box office accepts cash only.
Secured parking is available for a fee of between $3 and $8 behind the theater at 5001 Prospect Ave. There is also metered street parking (free after 6pm) and non-Agora parking lots that vary in cost. Located two miles east of Cleveland State University, the area surrounding the Agora is mostly businesses and warehouses which are regularly patrolled by Midtown Security.
More Information about the Agora Theater:
The Backstage Café at the Agora is a section where parents can wait for their teenagers after dropping them off at a show.
There is also a bar in the lobby of the theater that requires both a wristband and proper I.D. Doors usually open one hour before the concert begins. Shows are generally open to all ages and are general admission. There is NO RE-ENTRY and the venue hires Tenable Protective Services for shows.
The Agora Theater
5000 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44103; 216 881-6911.
The Future of the Agora Theater:
The Agora’s legendary reputation for booking a wide variety of bands continues today with shows from Insane Clown Posse, Rancid, and Eagles of Death Metal to Bob Weir with Rat Dog, Keller Williams, and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. The venue’s music genres range from acoustic to World/Ethnic with everything in between including Christian Contemporary, hip-hop, punk and Ska. Regardless of your taste and preference, the Cleveland Agora Theatre and Ballroom is the place to go for shows.
(last updated 10-6-12)