CVI unveils new theater Sunday |

CVI unveils new theater Sunday

by Sheila Gardner
Joey Whitacre, director of Carson Valley Inn casino and marketing operations, talks about the amphitheater at the Carson Valley Inn on Wednesday.
Shannon Litz | The Record-Courier
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Some fast facts about Carson Valley Inn’s new Valley Sky Theatre which opens Sunday:

■ It takes about 3 1/2 hours to set up 800 folding chairs;

■ Another 100-150 people can sit on the lawn;

■ From the farthest chair to the stage is comparable to “the distance between first and second base;”

■ There isn’t a bad seat in the outdoor arena;

Bill Henderson, director of sales, and Joey Whitacre, director of casino and marketing operations, offered a look at the new outdoor venue on Wednesday as workers were putting on the finishing touches.

The theater opens Sunday for CVI’s 29th birthday with a free concert by The Blues Monsters.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the theater,” Henderson said. “I’m hearing people say, ‘This is just what the Valley needs.’”

Henderson said the venue went up so unobtrusively, some are asking him when construction is to begin.

The open-air structure has a rural feel to it with a wood building that houses storage, permanent rest rooms, and a “green room” for entertainers. There are two outdoor bars which will serve everything from water to cocktails.

“Even the band has a great view,” Henderson said as he surveyed the one-acre venue Wednesday from the stage.

On Sunday, guests will be able to try out the new amphitheater for free.

Henderson described the Sunday’s all-ages concert as a “shakedown,” or soft opening.

“It’s free, and we want everyone to come out and see what we’re doing,” he said.

On Aug. 23, country artist Collin Raye is performing at a show with ticket prices at $28 for VIP seating and $20 for general admission.

Henderson said CVI intends to keep ticket prices moderate.

That means no Justin Bieber.

“When you talk about acts like that, you have to take into consideration what people will pay for tickets,” Henderson said.

Some of the bigger names in the concert business come with $100,000 to $150,000 price tags.

“When you do the numbers for that, you figure if you sell 1,000 tickets, to cover costs, you’re going to have to charge $100 to $150 a ticket. We won’t do that,” Henderson said.

Opening Valley Sky Theatre this late in the summer puts it at the end of the concert season, Whitacre said, which influences what entertainment can be booked.

“One of the things we’ll be determining over the fall and winter is just when our concert season will be. It could start next May or June, but that depends on the weather,” Whitacre said.

The outdoor center is positioned so concert noise will be at a minimum. The closest residential area is Winhaven.

Henderson said concerts will be over by 10 p.m., and he didn’t expect events to make much more noise than Minden’s concerts in the park.

“I’ve had people from Winhaven telling me they’re going to put chairs out on their lawn and enjoy the music,” he said.

“It’s drawing a lot of excitement,” he said.

Sunday’s CVI birthday festivities also include a free Splash Dogs Jumping Competition in the afternoon.

The outdoor festivities start in the north parking lot at noon with the first Splash Dogs competition round. Additional rounds are at 2 and 4 p.m. and the finals are at 6 p.m.

Dogs are welcome to compete for a $20 entry fee, and guest services has the guidelines.

Inside the casino, free cake and champagne will be served 2-3 p.m., and 9-10 p.m.