History of Mayo Civic Center

In 1938, the civic leaders of the City of Rochester dedicated the new Mayo Civic Auditorium. This  building, designed as a dual-venue complex, provided much needed entertainment for the citizens of a growing community.

The brick & concrete structure housed two very different types of activities. The 1700 seat arena was designed to promote athletic events and included a rink for skating and ice hockey. The 1340 seat theatre was intended as a showcase for fine arts and was designed to accommodate midsized theatrical and musical productions. The complex had separate entrances for each venue but a connected back-of-house area. Balconies were constructed in both the theatre and arena. Steel trusses provide the structural clear span necessary for both spaces. The original building was designed by Ellerbe and Company of St. Paul, MN.  

In 1972, the Mayo Civic Auditorium underwent modifications and improvements to the air conditioning systems for the arena and theatre. In this project, a room was added to the south of the arena to accommodate new mechanical equipment. This work was implemented by Ellerbe of St. Paul, MN.

In 1978, the Zumbro River overflowed. The ensuing flood damaged the lobby and seating in the theatre. A flood control gate at the entrance to the theatre was added as a preventive measure.

With the addition of the Taylor Arena in 1984, the Mayo Civic Auditorium became the Mayo Civic Center. This $18 million project included the addition of a skylit grand lobby that connected the sports arena and the theatre to this new 4,500 seat arena. Due to the creation of this new venue, the space formerly known as the arena was renamed the auditorium. In addition, new construction included the Riverview Suites, a set of five interconnected meeting rooms fronting Mayo Park and the Zumbro River. A number of rooms to the southeast of the original arena were demolished in order to create office, restroom and storage space. This work was performed by Ellerbe of Minneapolis, MN. Consultants for this project included:

  • Theatrical consultant - Jones & Phillips, Lafayette IN
  • Acoustical consultant - Coffeen Anderson Fricket & Associates, Inc., Mission KS
  • Food Service consultant - Van Hemert Associates, Inc. - St. Paul MN
In 1994, the Zumbro River Flood Control Project was completed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

In early 1995, connection to the Skyway System was completed. This work was executed by Yaggy Colby Associates of Rochester MN.

In 1997 an expansion to the west was completed, adding a much needed concourse to the theatre, four Civic Center Suites and a Grand Ballroom. These rooms were developed to add flexibility and event independence. The theatre was also remodeled: enlarging the lobby, refurbishing the seating and adding tablet arms, replacing the rigging, lighting and sound system, reworking the room acoustics and performing general painting and touch ups were all projects in this phase of work.

In 1998 Rochester voters authorized the extension of the city's 1/2% sales tax which when combined with a bonding grant from the state of Minnesota would offer renovation of the auditorium, adding a north lobby and 25,000 square foot exhibit hall, updating connectivity technology, and updating existing HVAC and finishes.    

In 2001, the new 25,200 square foot Exhibit Hall addition was completed, creating a facility of 120,000 square feet.