Thunder Valley’s popular 5,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, located in the parking lot next to Lincoln’s Casino, has been in operation for over a decade since 2011 with great success. In total, the amphitheater hosts nearly 300 performances in all weather conditions, featuring nationally renowned artists, festivals, comedians and tribute bands of all genres.
But the amphitheater, which will hold its final show in September 2022, “just finished,” said John Bow, Thunder Valley entertainment director who has worked at the casino for 20 years. “It’s time for us to build a new climate-controlled building.”
The new 150,000-square-foot center adjacent to the casino, dubbed simply The Venue, raises the bar for similarly sized entertainment theaters in the Capital Region. The 4,500-seat facility, built at a cost of $100 million by McCarthy Building Companies and OTJ Architects, debuted with a ribbon-cutting celebration on Feb. 14 and opened three days later with a three-day sold-out show featuring the Eagles, Bruno Mars Presidents Day weekend game with Team Santana.
“Get ready to be wowed,” Thunder Valley general manager Dawn Clayton told attendees at the Feb. 14 ribbon-cutting ceremony before they entered the facility for a tour that included members of the United Auburn Indian Community Tribal Council, Thunder Valley and local officials and community groups.
“It was a labor of love,” Gene Whitehouse, president of the United Auburn Indian Community, told the ribbon-cutting crowd. “The venue is a state-of-the-art entertainment venue unlike anywhere else in the region. We will bring you top-notch entertainment year-round. We’ll never have to work in 105-degree heat again.”
The Thunder Valley resort, which opened in 2003, broke ground on The Venue in March 2021 after delays due to COVID-19, Bow said. A press release from Thunder Valley states that The Venue is designed to be “contemporary and sophisticated, with multiple levels of space and amenities, cutting-edge sound and video systems, great deals on food, beer and wine, and more” ”
Fans of the three opening weekend artists pocketed their pockets in impressive fashion. While the Eagles, Bruno Mars and Santana have been in the Sacramento area multiple times before, ticket demand is still off the charts, with some seat resale tickets for the Eagles and Bruno Mars topping thousands of dollars each. The day after Santana’s performance, Thunder Valley spokesman Doug Elmets was still ecstatic about the weekend’s response from performers and fans.
“It was unbelievable from an entertainment and fan appreciation standpoint, and they were so amazed at how cool the venue was,” Elmets said. “And I think if you look at the venue’s Facebook page, there’s been a lot of comments. It’s been as good as we all expected.”
Bow said they plan to book 80 to 90 music, comedy and sporting events a year at The Venue, and that number is growing every year. Some of the upcoming acts include The Beach Boys, Sarah Silverman, Sammy Shager, Kevin James and John Fogarty.
“There’s no question there’s something for everyone,” Bow said.
The Venue at Thunder Valley complements the growing entertainment scene in the Placer Valley area, with Hard Rock Casino opening a new 2,500-seat indoor theater in Wheatland in June 2022; and the 18,500-seat outdoor Toyota Amphitheater, also in Wheatland Lang; the outdoor 1,000-seat Quarry Park Amphitheater in Rocklin; and the indoor 851-seat Folsom College Harris Center.
“This is the first time I’ve opened a new building, and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of it from the ground up, and we want the Sacramento community to consider it their own,” said Bow, who has worked in Thunder Valley for 20 years.
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