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The Outland has been a staple in the Springfield music scene for 17 years.
SBJ file photo
The Outland has been a staple in the Springfield music scene for 17 years.

Downtown music venue changes ownership

Posted online

It's been an unusual few weeks for The Outland music venue and bar complex downtown.

New ownership was announced yesterday with plans to keep the venue operational under the same name and without "a lot of change in vibe and friendliness that we have become known for over the years," according to a Facebook post. Kevin Dunn of Springfield artist management and development company The Varakus Group is the new owner, according to the post.

But prior to that, a separate sale that would have brought an end to The Outland sparked fan backlash that ultimately led to the deal being called off.

Operators of The Outland announced last month that the 17-year venue would close and the business would be sold to an ownership team led by musician Scott Lee.

Fans of the venue took to social media to criticize plans by new ownership for concepts called 2 Hotties Entertainment Complex, 8 Seconds Saloon and Jesters Sports Bar. Former Outland owner Jimmy Kochs responded on Facebook, saying he "just couldn't do it," and pulled the deal.

In the meantime, an Outland GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign that initially fell short of its $15,000 goal in May has now raised nearly $36,000. The Facebook post yesterday indicated money from the GoFundMe – organized by Kochs and other staffers – would go toward building repairs and upgrades.

The Facebook post yesterday indicated Dunn would take a background role, with Seth Kean serving as general manager and talent buyer, and music promoter Johan Collins taking a managerial role.

"Kevin took this on as a way to help transition the club during the pandemic and make sure Outland could stay open and last for our community," the post reads. "Besides a lot of cosmetic and tech upgrades to the building, you won’t notice a lot of change."

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