The Tahoe Blue Center in Stateline will open in time for its first publicly announced event, Lake Tahoe Comic Con scheduled for Sept. 23-24.
“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” said Center Director of Operations Gary Wilmes during a tour on Wednesday.
The largest construction project in Douglas County is undergoing finishing touches, big and small, in preparation for the grand opening in late August-September.
International Coliseums Co. Vice President Robert Tamborski said he’s worked on many event centers but none are as beautiful as the outside.
The project proved more extravagant and difficult than others due to the location, according to Tamborski.
Ground water was anticipated to be a challenge but, according to the director, a bigger problem lay afoot.
“Large boulders the size of school buses had to be broken down by core drilling the boulders then adding chemicals which expand and break them into smaller more manageable pieces, “Tamborski said, adding that the project took considerable time to navigate carving into the side of the mountain, flying specialty contractors into the remote location from all around the United States coupled with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency restrictions.
Before the end of summer, the event center will be fully functioning with a nearly 27,000-square-foot floor space that can be used for a variety of events such as concerts, basketball, conferences, 158 10-by-10 vendor booths, youth sports, cheer, dance, wrestling and even sports and shows on ice. Events at the center can hold a maximum capacity of 5,500.
The scoreboard will be part of a 30×20 LED wall with a ribbon board wrapping around the the main bowl to create a full 360-degree video experience and scoreboard.
The reader board allows for varied lighting and sound placement as well as for the event space to be completely customizable with portable walls to create smaller event spaces, portable concession stands, beverage and space enough to allow other vendors, according to Wilmes.
The design allows for a wide variety of options to come together to meet the needs of those interested in using the space.
“We wanted less brick and mortar feeling and more of a lodge, to keep the Tahoe feel, with large windows and a log cabin feel inside and out,” Wilmes said. “Two fireplaces with soft furniture and high top tables will be put out for sporting events with a grab and go station as well as hot stations. Everything is portable so it can be moved in and out, making the concourse and all but two of the conference rooms entirely customizable.”
The two static conference rooms will have retractable projection screens with all the amenities of a high end meeting hall.
“The event center needed to create a zero vehicle miles travel impact,” Lake Tahoe Visitor Authority attorney Lew Feldman said.
“To achieve the goal of zero vehicle miles the event center implemented, with support of stakeholders, public transit with Lake Link and on condition of approval from TRPA, in addition, required the casinos to implement paid parking after the environmental analysis conducted and concluded a combination of the two would achieve the zero vehicle mile travel,” Feldman added. “Lake Link, started over a year in advance of the required start date and has had amazing results in ridership, and the drivers get great reviews.”
Feldman shared that the project itself has removed 5 acres of impervious surface where cars causing contaminated runoff has been replaced by a roof which provides a source of clean runoff and, as it flows to the lake, benefits water quality in comparison to surface parking.
LTVA President Carol Chaplin said the event center means evolution for the visitors authority.
“While we’ve always supported our lodging partners that have meeting space, we are evolving with additional sales support for the Event Center,” she said. “Our staff is helping with increasing awareness in the meetings market segment and helping meeting planners understand what the destination has to offer in the way of lodging, activities, restaurants, etc.”