A new 3,000-seat event center will open at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem by May 2012, with shows that will be booked by the world’s largest concert promotion company, Live Nation.
A three-way partnership among the , Live Nation and the Vision Entertainment Group of Allentown was announced during a media event at the Sands Hotel this afternoon.
The center will bring between 180 and 225 live shows a year with the same type of big name acts that are booked to appear at venues like The Tower Theater in Upper Darby and The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, said Gerald R. Deifer Jr., a partner with the Vision Entertainment Group.
In the next month, The Borgata event center is staging shows by Blondie, Bruce Hornsby, Adele and Whoopi Goldberg. Coming up at The Tower are shows by , Primus and Duran Duran.
Ticket prices for the Sands Event Center are expected to be in the range of $35 to $50 a show, Deifer said.
The center will also be able to accommodate athletic events such as boxing, in a tent outside the hotel. Partners have also been contacted about possibly hosting Mixed Martial Arts events as well.
The flexible, multi-purpose center will also have the ability to host banquets and conventions on a larger scale than any Lehigh Valley venue has ever been able to accommodate before, with room for as many as 1,000 participants.
Currently, the Lehigh Valley is unable to host a conference with much more than 300 people, according to Michael Stershic, president of Discover Lehigh Valley, the region’s tourism promotion agency.
A larger convention center will enable the region to attract larger conventions and trade shows, which will bring more visitors and tourists. The average convention visitor spends $200 a day in the area they are visiting, outside of the money spent on the hotel, Stershic said.
The event center itself is expected to generate at least 100 full- and part-time jobs, not counting employment created by construction.
The three-way partnership will have Vision Entertainment owning and operating the center and controlling the calendar. Live Nation will be booking and promoting the performances and shows. The Sands will be booking conventions, while it also promotes the shows that Live Nation books to its own clientele.
Vision Entertainment Group is a partnership co-founded by developer Jeff Trainer, who was among the first to invest in the former Bethlehem Steel property when he built the seven years ago.
The Sands has hired Alvin H. Butz Inc. of Allentown to build the 50,000-square-foot shell of the building, while Vision Entertainment has hired Serfass Construction, another local construction company, to do the internal fit-out.
Live Nation is an international corporation that either manages or books concerts for venues around the world. It owns Ticketmaster and the House of Blues chain and has exclusive deals with some of the world’s top musical acts – Madonna, Nickelback, Jay-Z, Shakira, U2 – to promote their shows.
The venue will have seven mezzanine level corporate suites, each having between 25 and 35 seats for companies to entertain clients. Vision Entertainment is also looking to sell naming rights to the venue.
The center will also feature a 10,000-square-foot bar and lounge, which will be open year-round whether or not an event is planned.
The events center announcement is the latest news in the continuing development of the casino, which opened in May 2009. An attached 300-room hotel of this year, about a month after the casino announced its plants to build a 200,000–square-footnext door.
The first stores at the new Sands mall are expected to open in November, while the mall should be fully built and opened by President’s Day, casino officials have said.