By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — City Pages, which has been an alternative news and entertainment source for the Twin Cities for more than four decades, is shutting down for good, according to a statement posted from the Star Tribune ownership.

The weekly paper, which is currently owned by the Star Tribune and has been since 2015, is shutting down immediately. The last issue will be distributed this week.

The paper began under the moniker Sweet Potato in 1979 before rechristening as City Pages two years later. It was, along with the Reader, considered the preeminent free alternative newspaper in the metro area for most of the ’80s and ’90s. The Reader was shut down in the late ’90s.

The move was made as a result of the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has had on restaurants, clubs, theaters and other venues that “form the core of City Pages’ revenue.”

“As you can imagine, the current economic climate for City Pages advertisers has turned from unfavorable to unfeasible,” Paul Kasbohm, chief revenue officer of the Star Tribune, said in a statement. “Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events-and those investments have dropped precipitously-there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic. Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”

For dedicated readers, the paper’s sudden demise was tough o swallow.

“It should never have been free. I would have paid,” said reader Luke LaRock. “When I think of the city, it’s because I read it in City Pages. It’s because I see it in every cool place.”

Places like Bryant Lake Bowl — a Hall-of-Famer of sorts in the paper’s Best of Edition — often winning for the best bowling alley, date night and comedy theater.

“We would send in a list of all our shows to City Pages and then cross our fingers every Tuesday night for the A-list,” said Bryant Lake Bowl Artistic Director Kristin Van Loon.

Local news, politics, and social justice also defined the paper’s presence. A weekly connection to Twin Cities culture — now just a 41-year chapter in its history.

Jeff Wagner

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